GM to recycle ~10K tons of EV battery materials a year with Redwood deal

GM to recycle ~10K tons of EV battery materials a year with Redwood deal

Enlarge / These minerals were once part of lithium-ion battery cells and will be once again.

Redwood Materials

Battery recycling company Redwood Materials will start recycling battery production scrap from General Motors’ new line of electric vehicles. This morning, Redwood announced that it is working with Ultium Cells, the joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solutions that makes Ultium battery cells. Approximately 10,000 tons a year of production scrap will be sent from the Ultium Cells plants in Ohio and Tennessee to Redwood’s site in northern Nevada.

Redwood was started by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel in 2017 and in recent years has announced partnerships with multiple OEMs, including Ford, Volvo, Volkswagen, and now General Motors. Last year, the US Department of Energy approved a $2 billion loan to Redwood as part of its Advanced Technology Manufacturing program (which also funded Ultium Cells).

Redwood says that its hydrometallurgy facility is now a “commercial-scale source of lithium supply,” the first to come online in the United States for decades. The facility also produces raw nickel and cobalt from battery scrap.

There’s some evidence that recycled battery materials perform better than minerals freshly mined from the ground, and Redwood says recycling uses far less water and energy than are necessary to process mined ore into battery-grade materials.

Until now, Spiers New Technologies had been responsible for GM’s EV batteries once they were done powering a car; it has been repurposing old Chevy Bolt batteries for static storage. By contrast, the Redwood-Ultium Cells deal is for production scrap from the cell-making process—GM assembles functional cells into modules and then packs at other factories.

Despite being highly optimized for mass production, the Ultium plants will still scrap between 5–10 percent of the cells they produce, amounting to about 10,000 tons of material a year.

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