Ford signs deal with Redwood Materials to recycle EV Batteries 

Dane Hardware (proper), Ford design and launch engineer, and Mary Fredrick, Ford battery validation engineer, measure the voltage of a battery utilizing a digital multimeter at Ford’s Battery Benchmarking and Test Laboratory in Allen Park, Michigan.


Ford is partnering with battery recycling start-up Redwood Materials to reuse the uncooked supplies from EV battery packs.  

The settlement, which is able to start initially with recycling scrap materials from battery manufacturing, is the newest indication automakers are taking steps to tackle the provision and value of uncooked supplies wanted to manufacture batteries for electrical autos.

“It will help us reduce the reliance on importing a lot of the materials that we use today when we build the batteries, and then it’ll reduce the mining of raw materials, which is going to be incredibly important in the future as we start to scale,” mentioned Lisa Drake, Ford’s chief working officer. “Creating this domestic supply chain is really a major step towards making electric vehicles more affordable and more accessible to everyone.”

With EV gross sales within the U.S. anticipated to soar from an estimated 350,000 autos in 2021 to greater than 1,000,000 yearly by 2025, in accordance to the analysis agency LMC Automotive, automakers are more and more centered on the life cycle of EV batteries. 

Tesla, which recycles batteries from its autos, addresses the difficulty on its web site saying, “none of our scrapped lithium-ion batteries go to landfilling, and 100% are recycled.” GM is working with Canada primarily based Li-Cycle to recycle scrap materials from the manufacturing of Ultium battery cells.

Ford’s deal with Redwood Materials may benefit each corporations because the variety of EVs continues to develop. Ford and its battery manufacturing accomplice SK Innovations will safe a gentle, and probably rising, provide of key supplies equivalent to lithium, nickel and copper vital to manufacturing EV battery packs. Redwood Materials will obtain battery packs that will probably be recycled, with the important thing parts then shipped again to Ford to be reused in future EVs.

“We’re building and deploying around a little more than 2.000 batteries onto the roads in America, every single day,” mentioned JB Straubel, founder and CEO of Redwood Materials. “We need to at least be planning to figure out how we can very efficiently and sustainably recycle and disassemble a similar number of batteries.”

Initially, Redwood will probably be recycling scrap materials it receives from Ford at its amenities in Carson City, Nevada. Over time, as Ford and SK Innovation add crops, it’s doable Redwood Materials will construct new recycling facilities nearer to the battery manufacturing crops.

On paper, Ford’s battery recycling plan is smart. But ensuring there’s a steady loop would require Ford to observe what occurs to its EVs lengthy after they’ve been offered. A tall process since autos usually have two or three homeowners earlier than they hit the tip of their life, and when that occurs the EV is probably going to find yourself at a scrap yard. The reply might be requiring automakers to observe EV batteries.

“It’s definitely possible for the automaker to shepherd that battery through its lifetime, and get it to the recycling center,” mentioned Sam Jaffe, managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors.

Jaffe, who tracks the EV battery market, says recycling is taking maintain in Europe as a result of automakers have a authorized obligation to assure the battery will probably be recycled. “The batteries get to the scrap yards, the automaker will pick them up and bring them in to centralize them and then send them to recycling,” he mentioned. The push to enhance recycling within the EU is one cause Volkswagen and Peugeot have rolled out small recycling operations on the continent.

For now, Ford has not established a definitive plan for ensuring battery packs on the finish of their lives are recycled, however Drake admits the monetary good thing about recycling batteries is substantial. “If we can recapture that value and not have to mine again and have some domestic supply security, that’s incredibly valuable for us,” she mentioned throughout a briefing asserting the partnership. 

EV battery recycling has not acquired extra consideration within the United States largely as a result of the variety of electrical autos reaching the tip of their lives stays comparatively small. That will change over the subsequent 10 years because the trade ramps up EV manufacturing.   

AlixPartners, an auto trade consulting agency, says investments in battery manufacturing will make up nearly 1 / 4 of the $330 billion being spent to develop and construct electrical autos from 2021 by means of 2025.   Ford has dedicated to spend $22 billion by means of 2025 growing EVs, together with the F-150 Lightning. First deliveries of the all-electric pickup truck are scheduled for early subsequent yr.

Ford is amongst a number of corporations which have invested in Redwood Materials, which has raised extra $800 million over three rounds of funding. Straubel says demand for uncooked supplies will proceed to develop, so recycling as an alternative of mining will change into a sensible transfer for automakers.   

“It can alleviate the need for importing more of these materials from overseas and can alleviate the need and the pressure on ramping up mining,” he mentioned.

— CNBC’s Meghan Reeder contributed to this report

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