Redwood Materials has released an interesting update on its electric and hybrid vehicle battery recycling programme, launched about a year ago in California with partners Ford and Volvo. Redwood has collected and recycled 1,268 end-of-life lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride battery packs over the past 12 months.
The company is already beginning to produce new anode and cathode from the recovered metals, which can be returned directly to US battery cell manufacturers. Redwood reports 95 per cent of metals could be effectively recovered and used to produce downstream battery components.
The discarded battery packs came from 19 different models. 82 per cent of them (or about 1,040 units) were lithium-ion batteries, and 18 per cent (or 228 units) were nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. In other words, the batteries from Toyota’s hybrid models, which were sold in large numbers in California a few years ago. Of the 1,268 battery packs, less than five per cent fell into the “Damaged, Defective or Recalled” (DDR) category.
Initially, Redwood partnered with Ford and Volvo Cars for the recycling programme, launched in February 2022. Volkswagen and Toyota joined the initiative a few months later.
It is also interesting that, given the quantities, recycling batteries is not the biggest cost factor. It’s the logistics. As mentioned above, the batteries were collected in California but processed in northern Nevada. “The key to reducing logistics costs for end-of-life battery packs is to achieve economies of scale through increased collection volume and Redwood is confident that, in time, as EOL pack volumes increase, the logistics cost will decrease so that batteries will become assets that will help make EVs more sustainable and affordable in the long run,” the company writes. Redwood’s recycling process is already profitable for smaller batteries, such as those installed in consumer devices, and production scrap.