When Tesla co-founder JB Straubel stepped down from his submit as the corporate’s CTO in 2019, it wasn’t simply to go fishing and play golf. Truly, for all we all know, he could bask in each of those actions, however he’s additionally been devoting his abilities to a worthy venture: beginning up a battery recycling firm known as Redwood Supplies.
Above: A glance again at JB Straubel (proper) delivering the primary Tesla Mannequin S to board member Steve Jurvetson (left) again in 2012 (Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)
Straubel co-founded the startup in 2017, however till just a few weeks in the past, it appears to have been working in stealth mode. Now Straubel is starting to reveal some details about his plans to make Redwood one of many world’s main battery recycling corporations. He just lately appeared on TechCrunch’s TC Sessions: Mobility program.
“That is one thing that could be a main business and a significant drawback, and it’s an enormous a part of why I wish to spend my time on it,” Straubel informed TechCrunch. “I wish to do one thing that may truly make a extremely materials influence on sustainability on the planet. And also you want scale to try this.”
Nevada-based Redwood’s mission is to create a round provide chain. Step one is to gather scrap from the manufacturing of battery cells utilized in EVs and shopper electronics. Subsequent, Redwood will extract precious supplies equivalent to cobalt, nickel and lithium, then provide them to cell producers to be recycled into new batteries.
Redwood says it has signed up a number of prospects, and has revealed that it’s working with Panasonic and Amazon. As Reuters experiences, Redwood and Panasonic have partnered on a supplies restoration operation that started pilot operation final 12 months. Redwood has acquired funding from Amazon’s Local weather Pledge Fund, in addition to from Breakthrough Power Ventures, which counts heavy hitters Jeff Bezos and Invoice Gates amongst its backers.
Above: Straubel’s new firm, Redwood Supplies, has vital plans in place to recycle batteries (Supply: Redwood Materials)
Redwood has two recycling and processing services in Carson Metropolis, which it says are at the moment working on the “gigawatt scale.” If we take Tesla for instance, we will assume that Redwood will ramp that up in document time. “We’ve been capable of develop extraordinarily rapidly and to ramp up our capability and I count on that can observe roughly the size of lithium-ion manufacturing, lagging by just a few years,” says Straubel.
“We’ve already dug these metals out of the bottom, we’ve put them in cells, they’re sitting there,” mentioned Celina Mikolajczak, VP of Battery Know-how at Panasonic, who joined Straubel for the TC Sessions: Mobility interview. “And yeah, it’s a bit of tough to deal with cells, they course of a bit of in a different way than a typical metallic ore, proper, however on the identical time, now we have a a lot increased focus of the metals we’d like than a typical metallic ore. So it makes complete sense to go after recycling and to do it aggressively as a result of there’s a number of it, there’s a number of batteries already out on the planet.”
“Scale” is a phrase that Straubel makes use of lots, and it’s an necessary idea to grasp, because it’s a part of the important thing to Tesla’s success, and to the way forward for electrification. EVs themselves stands out as the most glamorous a part of the e-mobility ecosystem (and naturally, the half that we customers truly contact and drive and brag about to our pals), however so as to construct EVs, it’s good to construct batteries, and so as to make EVs really sustainable, it’s good to recycle these batteries as soon as their life is over. Hundreds of thousands of EVs on the street imply hundreds of thousands of batteries to finally be recycled.
“Because the world electrifies transportation it wants so many various supplies, and the availability chain upstream of the manufacturing facility is, I feel, usually under-appreciated,” says Straubel. “The Gigafactory is a bit of bit like an iceberg—there’s a lot of it that’s sort of under the floor, within the suppliers and within the mines and refineries and all of the various things that have to feed into it that you just don’t usually see.”
Written by: Charles Morris