Recycling startup Redwood Materials is partnering with Proterra to supply EV battery materials sustainably – TechCrunch

A rising variety of firms have emerged over the previous few years decided to cut back waste within the electrical car battery market. Chief amongst these is recycling agency Redwood Materials, which has rapidly expanded since its launch in 2017 by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel to change into the most important lithium-ion battery recycler in North America. Now the agency is teaming up with electrical business car producer Proterra in a deal that will assist increase the home battery supply chain.

This is the primary publicly introduced partnership between Redwood and an automaker.

Under the settlement, all Proterra batteries can be despatched to Redwood’s services for recycling in Carson City, Nevada. The two firms entered the settlement in January, however have been in dialogue since final summer time, when Proterra reached out to study extra about Redwood’s recycling course of. That led to a visit out to Redwood’s services in Nevada to see if the recycler may course of Proterra battery packs.

“That went really well,” Proterra CTO Dustin Grace informed TechCrunch. Grace labored for Straubel for round 9 years at Tesla. “We were super excited to see their operation. From there, we started work on our master supply agreement.”

Proterra has despatched round 26,000 kilos of battery materials to Nevada for recycling since getting into the partnership, although this doesn’t characterize the tempo of future deliveries. Overall, Redwood receives 60 tons per day or 20,000 tons of batteries per 12 months.

The batteries that energy Proterra’s fleets are designed to final the lifespan of the car, however the firm presents a battery leasing program that ensures substitute after six years – which implies loads of helpful life will stay within the battery, as a lot as 80-90% charging capability. To exploit the rest of this capability, Proterra has plans to reuse the batteries in second-life functions – akin to in stationary storage methods connected to Proterra charging {hardware} – earlier than they head to Nevada.

“First the grading of the battery will occur at Proterra by our remanufacturing engineering team. If the battery is deemed ready for second-life, it will go into one of those applications; if it’s not, it gets recycled,” Grace mentioned.

Only as soon as all this handy life is exhausted will the batteries be despatched to Redwood, the place the waste can be reprocessed into precious uncooked materials. And with the transit EV market poised to attain 50% of all annual gross sales by 2025, there can be loads of batteries that can want reprocessing.

The news comes simply weeks after Redwood introduced it was teaming up with e-bike producer Specialized to recycle its batteries. Redwood already has preparations to course of scrap from Panasonic’s battery cell manufacturing on the Nevada Tesla Gigafactory, and with Amazon to recycle EV batteries and different waste. Through these business-to-business partnerships Redwood goals to develop a round battery supply chain, supplying the uncooked materials again to the producer. The firm additionally accepts electronics and batteries from everyday consumers, which may be mailed to Redwood by way of a mailing deal with posted on its web site.  

The partnership is an indication that each firms are considering large-scale and long-term. A spokesperson for Redwood mentioned in an announcement to TechCrunch that the recycler is centered on “developing the solution for a fully closed-loop recycling for EV batteries.” That means discovering actually sustainable, long-term sources of materials like cobalt, lithium and copper to ultimately transfer past terrestrial mining. And Straubel has been vocal up to now about his ambition to develop Redwood into one of many world’s largest battery materials firms.

As extra battery grade uncooked materials change into out there within the United States, Proterra sees a chance to ultimately develop into home battery cell manufacturing.

“It’s still early days but we’re trying to set ourselves up for the future state of this market at scale. That’s really the primary benefit of this partnership existing today,” Grace mentioned. “The way we see it, domestic cell production for Proterra is a very, very important part of our roadmap here in the coming years. The idea of generating more battery-grade raw materials on North American soil directly supports the expansion of that battery manufacturing concept within the US. So I think this starting now absolutely aids our plans for domestic cell manufacturing in the near future.”

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