GM will recycle its EV battery scrap with Tesla co-founder’s company

General Motors is working with EV battery and recycling firm Redwood Materials to recycle the scrap from two of its manufacturing facilities, the companies announced.

Redwood, which was founded by Tesla co-founder and ex-chief technology officer JB Straubel, will handle “100 percent” of the scrap from GM’s Warren, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee, facilities.

Specifically, the deal is between Redwood and Ultium Cells LLC, which is a joint battery-making venture between GM and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, a subsidiary of LG Chem and a major supplier of lithium-ion batteries to Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and of course, GM.

With this deal, Redwood says it now has secured recycling partnerships with “most” of the major EV battery-making operations in the US.

The scrap that Redwood will be processing will include cathode and anode material, which are key ingredients in lithium-ion batteries. The company will take the materials and transform them into “high-quality” battery materials that can then be sold back to its many partners to make new EV batteries.

Ultium Cells LLC is already shipping materials to Redwood’s main facility in Nevada for recycling and processing. The joint venture is expected to produce 80GWh of battery cells annually at its two facilities. A third plant located in Michigan is currently under construction.

According to Redwood, even the most efficient battery cell manufacturers still produce scrap at an average rate of 5–10 percent. This equates to daily truckloads of material, eventually amounting to over 10,000 tons a year — all of which can be recycled by Redwood’s recyclers.

Many of the batteries from those first-wave electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, are just now reaching the end of their lifespan and are in need of recycling. After receiving batteries from its various partners, Redwood begins a chemical recycling process in which it strips out and refines the relevant elements like nickel, cobalt, and copper. A certain percentage of that refined material can then be reintegrated into the battery-making process — 95 percent of key battery metals on average, according to Redwood.


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