Redwood Materials, the battery recycling company founded and led by Tesla co-founder and former CTO JB Straubel, recently announced plans to ramp its copper foil production to 100 GWh of product annually over the next few years. This would be enough copper foil for about 1 million electric vehicles per year.
In a recent press release, Redwood noted that in a matter of months, its anode copper foil facility at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center would be completed, and it could start producing and delivering recycled battery products to customers. This could happen within the first half of 2022.
The Nevada site would not only be for copper foil production, however, as it would also host the company’s hydrometallurgy recycling operations. This would allow Redwood to feed copper from recycled lithium-ion batteries directly into its copper foil production system in a closed-loop.
Redwood highlighted that localizing copper foil production in the United States would help make batteries more sustainable. Since almost all anode copper foil and cathode production happens in Asia today, battery materials end up traveling thousands of miles before they can be made into a final product. These travels end up affecting the environmental impact and cost of battery production.
Redwood estimates that with just the localization of copper foil, the company could eliminate 5,500 MT of CO2 annually. That’s a notable step forward for batteries, as it would make them even cleaner than before.
Redwood’s first partner for its copper foil is Panasonic, which has been supplying the battery recycling startup with manufacturing scrap from Gigafactory Nevada. With the partnership in place, the copper foil used by Panasonic can be fully recycled, allowing the material to be remanufactured into anode foil and returned to the Tesla facility, where it will be used to produce 2170 cells for the Model 3 and Model Y.
To support its ambitious ramp, Redwood Materials is looking to invest about $1 billion in Northern Nevada over the coming years. The company also aims to hire over 500 people at its Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. Apart from this, Redwood is currently looking for another battery materials campus, which would be focused on cathode production. The project, which is planned for a 2022 announcement, would involve over $2 billion in investments. It would also allow Redwood to scale cathode production to 500 GWh or five million electric vehicles by 2030.
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