Former Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel’s battery recycling startup, Redwood Materials, has secured a deal with veteran automaker Ford. The two companies are looking to utilize their new partnership to develop a robust and sustainable battery supply chain in the United States, a goal emphasized by the Biden administration.
Redwood Materials recently announced a $700 million funding round, $50 million of which would be coming from Ford. Ford is not the only automaker that Redwood is working with, either, as the company has also secured a recycling deal for batteries from Japanese automaker Nissan. Of course, Straubel’s previous employer, Tesla, is also a client of Redwood Materials, with the startup recycling scrap from Gigafactory Nevada.
Interestingly enough, Ford intends to work with Redwood Materials beyond just simple battery recycling. The startup is looking to work with the automaker to figure out plans for a series of projects as well, from processing scrap metal to finding new uses for degraded batteries that still have ample capacity left. Redwood is also aiming to help Ford create new batteries from salvaged lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper.
“The Ford and Redwood vision begins with incorporating battery recycling into Ford’s American battery production strategy, integrating recycled battery materials, both scrap from battery production and batteries at the end of their useful life, into the battery supply chain to drive down costs, environmental footprint and secure a critical battery material supply that Ford will need to continue to ramp their electric vehicle production.
“But recycling is just the first step in creating a circular supply chain. We’ll be collaborating to determine how, together, we can create pathways for consumer vehicles to come off the road at the end of their life and be recycled and manufactured into battery materials to make more Ford electric vehicles,” Redwood noted.
Straubel is behind some of Tesla’s breakthrough battery technologies, so it is quite unsurprising that he is now involved in battery recycling. The former Tesla CTO, after all, is a staunch believer in the idea of a “closed-loop” or “circular” system where materials used in the production of batteries are recycled to create new cells. Such an accomplishment could make batteries even more environmentally friendly, while making them much more affordable to produce.
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