Redwood Materials is preparing to recycle the first big wave of used electric vehicle batteries
In 2024, a quarter of a million old electric cars will be ready for dismantling and recycling. That could represent a jump of more than 30% from 2023 — and Redwood Materials, which aims to be the country’s leading electric vehicle battery recycler, is ramping up its operations to prepare for the coming onslaught.
The company created by Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel, which also makes components for new batteries from materials it reclaims from old batteries, expects to build about 250,000 old Tesla Model S sedans, Nissan Leaf hatchbacks and Toyota Prius, Prius plug-ins and other hybrid cars. On set for disassembly in 2024 – with more coming every year after that. This is up from between 150,000 to 200,000 this year. To ensure it gets as many of those old batteries as possible, it launched a web portal to give quick quotes to dismantle cars and schedule trucks to take them away for recycling.
“Next year will be the first major wave of electric vehicles off the road, due to the early rise of EVs in the 2012 to 2014 time frame. This includes full electric vehicles but we also see A large number of hybrid cars, especially the Prius and plug-in models. Forbes. “Every year, there are more and more electric vehicles on the road, so you can plan using analytics about battery degradation over time and how the overall vehicle fleet transitions, and an assessment about how many cars will be off the road in a given time frame.”
This is good news for the company, which wants to recover as much of the high-value metals in electric vehicles and hybrid batteries — including nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper — as possible and turn them into cathode and anode materials for new cells. The packaging from dismantlers adds to what Redwood recovers from e-waste processors, scrap from battery plants and the auto companies it works with, including Toyota, Ford, Volvo and Volkswagen. Redwood has raised about $2 billion and secured a $2 billion federal loan to expand recycling and component production operations at its plant in Nevada and a new facility under construction near Charleston, South Carolina.
Keeping electric car batteries out of landfills
Efforts by Redwood City, Nevada-based Carson City, Nevada, and competitors like Li-Cycle to expand battery recycling come as states like Washington, California, Colorado, New Jersey and Illinois are drafting rules to keep electric vehicle batteries out of landfills. Dismantlers aren’t sure new regulations are needed because they make money by reselling old batteries that are still usable or sending them to recycling companies like Redwood, not disposing of them.
“Putting it in landfills wouldn’t make any sense,” said Ross Spaulding, owner of Spaulding, an auto dismantling company in Tacoma, Wash., that works with Redwood. That’s because even old lead-acid batteries, which can be recycled, sell for up to $12, while hybrid and electric vehicle batteries cost much more.
“These batteries are worth several hundred dollars at the very least. They are not going to a landfill,” he said.
California has been drafting battery recycling guidelines since 2018, with input from an industry advisory group, but has yet to issue a final standard.
Redwood said it supports state rules requiring automakers to establish programs to take back old batteries but is concerned about how they would be regulated. For example, she opposes creating a third party to oversee battery reuse and recycling efforts, which has been proposed in California, arguing that it could make the process more expensive. She also believes this is unnecessary since dismantlers are already financially incentivized to sell every package they have.
That even includes lithium-ion batteries involved in accidents that may have caught fire, said Lancton, who previously ran fleet and global operations for Lyft and was vice president of energy sales at Tesla.
“There are a different set of charging requirements that create some complexity, but they’re all solvable. There’s still value there; metals don’t necessarily burn all at once,” he said. “We render them inert through our proprietary heat treatment process, and then we put them back together.” “Back to base metals that we can extract.”
(Tags for translation) JB Straubel