Redwood plans massive $3.5B EV battery materials plant

Redwood Materials plans to invest $3.5 billion to build a battery materials plant in South Carolina.

At our facility at Camp Hall Commerce Park in Ridgeville, South Carolina, we recycle, refine, remanufacture, and recover and produce battery materials. The company said the factory will create about 1,500 jobs.

The plant, located near Charleston, will be Redwood’s second major facility. The expected $1.1 billion+ factory, which is under construction in phases near Reno, Nevada, is already recycling materials.

Both campuses are part of the company’s Carson City, Nevada business strategy to recover used batteries from automakers and the electronics industry and break them down into their cobalt, copper, graphite, lithium and nickel content.

These elements make up the negatively charged anode and positively charged cathode portions of the battery, conduct electrons in and out of the cell, and constitute the most significant battery materials cost in the industry.

Over time, the plant will be scaled up to produce 100 gigawatt hours of cathode and anode materials per year. That’s enough to equip more than a million electric vehicles a year, according to Redwood. Redwood aims to produce enough anodes and cathodes to equip 5 million EVs a year by 2030.

Redwood wants to be a source in the United States to fill the role that foreign suppliers are currently satisfied with. This reduces costs and reduces the carbon footprint of battery production, said Alexis Georgeson, spokesperson for Redwood. Redwood announced in November that it had signed a contract to supply cathode materials, a key component of lithium-ion batteries, to Panasonic Energy’s giant plant under construction in Kansas.

Redwood’s aggressive construction plans come as automakers accelerate their transition to EVs, ultimately requiring tens of millions of battery packs and tons of battery materials. Redwood expects demand for lithium-ion to grow by more than 500% by 2030.

The Biden administration has set a goal of zero-emission vehicles making up half of all new U.S. car sales by 2030. At the same time, the Inflation Reduction Act changed the eligibility for federal sales incentives to favor vehicles with North American-made batteries. Additionally, critical minerals used in batteries must be extracted or processed in the United States, either from free-trade partner countries or from materials recycled in North America.

Industry executives say bottlenecks in battery and materials production threaten to delay sales targets.

It sparked a construction frenzy for a battery factory. Automakers and battery suppliers have announced more than 15 new facilities or expansions since early 2021, representing at least $40 billion in potential investment, according to his October report from the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. I’m here.

According to Georgeson, battery plants announced and under construction in the United States will spend an estimated $150 billion abroad to procure anode and cathode materials between now and 2030, based on projected demand. It is said that there is a need.

Foreign suppliers also pose significant geopolitical risks. Battery-grade cobalt, for example, comes from just 18 mines, with the bulk of that supply coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said S&P Global Mobility’s Graham Evans.

In an October S&P report, Evans said the United Nations had flagged “child labor practices and ongoing guerrilla activity over resource exploitation and food security” in addition to the deteriorating security situation in Congo. It pointed out.

Moreover, according to BloombergNEF, China controls more than half of battery-grade metal refining capacity across all essential materials.

The industry needs to develop systems for recycling materials if automakers and regulators’ ambitious plans to move to EVs are to be realized, says a transportation technology-focused venture capital firm. Alexei Andreev, managing partner of the company Autotech Ventures, said.

Ores from mines contain concentrations of only 1 to 2 percent of the required elements, he said.

“When you extract the material, it’s metallurgical grade, but it’s still not pure enough. Nickel, for example, can make a shiny bathroom faucet, but it’s not pure enough for electrochemistry.

It requires a lot more processing.

But the material Redwood is culling from used batteries is ideal for recycling. Battery cells contain very high concentrations of the required elements and are already processed.

“Everything becomes easier,” says Andreev.

However, the process is still complicated. EV battery cells are difficult to collect and disassemble. They can catch fire and require special handling, he said.

Redwood said it will break ground on the Camp Hall campus early next year. We plan to run the first recycling process by the end of 2023. Add sites incrementally, adding features such as component manufacturing and scale.

JB Straubel, founder and CEO of Redwood, said the Carolina Battery Materials Campus will “support current and future customers at the heart of America’s battery belt.”

Straubel was previously Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer. In his 2017 he founded Redwood Materials.

According to the company, the campus uses no fossil fuels and relies solely on renewable energy.

According to Georgeson, not all production is tied to recycling. I don’t have enough material to go around. The factory is located near the Port of Charleston, so Redwood imports raw materials and may export components in the future.

Redwood also said partners such as Toyota, Volvo, Panasonic and Envision AESC are already in the region.

Redwood will receive local and state economic development incentives to help fund the plant, Georgeson said, but details will be announced later.

“This historic investment in Berkeley County provides unique career opportunities for our citizens and community. and improve the overall quality of life for residents,” said Johnny. Crib, Berkeley County Superintendent.

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