Redwood Materials makes strides in sustainable battery production

Credit: Redwood Materials

Redwood Materials achieved notable progress in its efforts to create a closed-loop battery materials supply chain at its Nevada campus. Over the past year, Redwood ramped its hydrometallurgical operations, commissioned a large-scale recycling rotary calciner, and began production of battery anode copper foil.

These advancements mark a major step forward in Redwood’s goal of establishing a sustainable source of battery materials for the domestic electric vehicle industry. The company’s hydrometallurgical facility, which is also the first commercial-scale nickel “mine” to open in the US in years, not only recycles battery scrap but also represents the only new source of domestic lithium supply in recent decades.

Redwood’s approach prioritizes environmental responsibility. The company’s hydrometallurgical process boasts a 95% lithium recovery rate from scrap batteries. Recovered materials are then purified for use in cathode active materials, minimizing environmental impact and strengthening the US’ domestic supply chains.

Redwood’s innovative reductive calciner, on the other hand, processes various battery feedstocks, including live battery cells, consumer electronics, and electric vehicle modules. To date, Redwood’s reductive calciner is capable of processing more than 40,000 metric tons (about 15-20 GWh) of materials every year. 

As noted by Redwood in a post on its official website, it invited a multidisciplinary team from Stanford University quantify the environmental footprint of our flowsheet. The study compared Redwood’s lithium-ion battery recycling processes to other recycling technologies. Stanford’s findings were notable. 

Redwood’s closed-loop system showed a substantial reduction in the impact associated with extraction and transport, a key concern with conventional mining. “In conventional mining cycles, extraction and transport typically account for over 30% of the environmental footprint of mined cathode materials. Our recycling process significantly reduces this impact to less than 5%, demonstrating the efficiency of our circular supply chain.”

Redwood’s processes were also found to be energy and resource-efficient. “Compared to traditional methods of processing mined ore into battery-grade materials, our approach is significantly more sustainable. We use 80% less energy, generate 70% less CO2 emissions, and require 80% less water, setting new standards in resource efficiency,” Redwood wrote in its post. 

Watch a video of Stanford’s analysis of Redwood Materials below. 

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Redwood Materials makes strides in sustainable battery production
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