Photo: Max Whittaker for The Wall Street Journal
Redwood Materials Inc., a battery recycling company formed by Tesla Inc. co-founder JB Straubel aims to relocate much of the battery components industry from Asia to the U.S. To this end, Redwood intends to build one of the world's largest factories for the production of battery materials.
JB Straubel left Tesla in 2019 and started his own battery recycling company, Redwood Materials. Bloomberg points out that its broader goal is to move a huge chunk of the battery components industry from Asia to the U.S.
“It's both inspiring and terrifying to see so many nations and car companies announcing their shift to electric vehicles,” Straubel said. “But there’s a massive gap in what needs to happen.”
To fill this gap, Straubel intends to build one of the world's largest factories for the production of battery materials. Redwood is looking for a site to build a new million-square-foot factory. At a cost of well over $1 billion, according to Straubel, the addition will enable the company to become a major U.S. producer of cathodes.
Straubel said that by the end of 2025, Redwood's plant in the U.S. will produce 100 gigawatt-hours of battery materials per year, enough for the production of an estimated 1.3 million long-distance vehicles per year. According to the plan, by 2030 the same facility will be increased to 500 gigawatt-hours per year.
“These numbers sound insane, but when you look at what the market needs, I’m like holy cow - is this even aggressive enough?” Straubel says. “Somebody’s got to do this. In fact, we need at least four companies doing similarly aggressive, crazy things all in the same timeline."
Currently Redwood is pursuing three types of operation: recycling, manufacturing copper foils for anodes, and producing cathodes. Recycling is done at its headquarters in Carson City, Nevada. The company recently broke ground on a 100-acre site in Story County, Nevada, to make the delicate copper foils, a component in short supply. A cathode factory will be its biggest endeavor by far, Straubel says.
In the decades to come, Straubel is confident that recycled materials will be used for “close to 100%” of the world’s battery production. Recycling is already profitable, he said, and eventually, companies that don’t integrate recycling with refining and production won’t be able to compete on cost.
© 2021, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
We appreciate your readership! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.