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Battery recycling firm wins $2B loan from Energy Department

By Associated Press
Published: February 9, 2023, 11:22am

WASHINGTON — A Nevada company that recycles batteries for electric vehicles has won a $2 billion green energy loan from the Biden administration.

Redwood Materials, a recycling venture founded by the former chief technology officer at Tesla, secured a conditional loan from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which helped Tesla more than a decade ago.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was set to tour Redwood’s facility in Nevada with Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo on Thursday.

Redwood recently announced plans to build a new $3.5 billion battery manufacturing and recycling factory in South Carolina. The Carson City, Nevada-based company plans to pull out key components of batteries such as nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper, and reuse them to make electrodes for electric vehicles.

The DOE loan is targeted for construction and expansion of a battery materials campus in McCarren, Nevada, that will support the growing electric vehicle market in the U.S. Once fully operational, the project would be the first domestic facility to support production of anode copper foil and cathode active materials in a fully closed-loop lithium-ion battery manufacturing process. The process would recycle end-of-life battery and production scrap and remanufacture that into critical materials, the Energy Department said in a blog post.

Redwood Materials is expected to create approximately 3,400 construction jobs and employ approximately 1,600 full-time employees, the Energy Department said.

Redwood said in a statement that it expects to produce 100 GWh annually of ultra-thin battery-grade copper foil and cathode-active materials from both new and recycled feedstocks in the United States. That will provide enough battery materials to produce more than a million electric vehicles a year domestically, the company said.

Redwood Materials was founded in 2017 by Jeffrey “JB” Straubel, Tesla’s former chief technology officer. It now has more than 300 employees who recycle used batteries and has supply contracts with Ford and Panasonic, which makes batteries for Tesla.

Straubel, Redwood’s CEO, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that recycling battery materials will help the U.S. establish its own electric-vehicle supply chain.

“Redwood fills a critical gap in that whole piece, and our goal is to close the loop on all the materials that we’ve already mined and produced into products, keep them in the regions where they were bought and are being used,” Straubel told the AP in December. “Every battery that we can recycle is one battery worth of materials that we don’t need to mine again. So we’re aiming to both fill a raw-material gap from the recycling and also fill a supply-chain gap.”

The Energy Department support for the recycling project “represents a critical milestone in the United States’ commitment to establishing a domestic battery supply chain rooted in manufacturing and American innovation,” the company said in a statement. “By localizing this critical supply chain and producing anode and cathode components at gigafactory-scale in the US for the first time, Redwood is addressing perhaps the most important supply chain need in electrification and ensuring that the United States can deliver on its clean energy and sustainable transportation plans.”