In February 2022, Redwood Supplies started a pilot program in California to recycle electrical automobile batteries. The startup partnered with the state authorities in addition to Ford, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Toyota, plus the automotive dismantling business, in an effort to supply end-of-life lithium-ion and nickel metallic hydride traction batteries. Now, a yr in, it has shared some findings from these first 12 months.
In whole, Redwood recovered 1,268 battery packs, amounting to greater than 500,000 lbs (226,796 kg). The overwhelming majority of those had been from automobiles that had reached the top of their specific street—Redwood says that lower than 5 p.c had been “broken, faulty, or recalled.”
These packs got here from 19 completely different EV and hybrid fashions, and the overwhelming majority—82 p.c in whole—was lithium-ion, with the remaining 18 p.c NiMH cells. Redwood says it was capable of recuperate 95 p.c of the lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, and different metals from these packs. And as we famous final month, the corporate is already producing production-grade copper anode foil.
Redwood says that the principle price driver in the entire course of comes all the way down to logistics, notably now whereas there are so few end-of-life EVs ready to have their battery packs recycled. Redwood says that “in time, as end-of-life pack volumes improve, the logistics price will lower in order that batteries will turn out to be belongings that may assist make EVs extra sustainable and inexpensive in the long term.”
Apparently, Redwood says that its recycling course of is already worthwhile for smaller batteries like these in cellphones and laptops, or when utilizing manufacturing waste. It anticipates that the identical will probably be true as soon as EV battery packs turn out to be accessible for recycling at scale.
That may take a while, nonetheless. For one factor, fears that EVs would require battery replacements en masse as they reached 8 years previous have confirmed principally unfounded. And even as soon as a battery is just too degraded to be used in a automotive, it could take pleasure in a protracted second life as static storage earlier than taking a visit to the recycler.
Redwood says that it’s important that automotive OEMs work with battery recyclers which can be able to refining used batteries into “battery grade” metals to be used in new cells. Failing to do that would result in intermediate recycling occurring right here within the US, with these supplies then being despatched abroad. Against this, lithium, copper, or different metals refined from recycled batteries right here within the US depend as home provide for the brand new clear automobile tax credit score guidelines.
“The worth of end-of-life batteries lies in making certain accountable recycling, and any proposals or actions that add additional prices to the EV battery worth chain will put each California and america at a aggressive drawback throughout this important interval of transition towards clear vitality and electrification,” Redwood says.