This Former Tesla Executive Has a Plan for Recycling EV Batteries

This addresses one of the big questions for EV adoption

EV taxis charging
Electric taxis charge batteries at a charging station.
Yan Yicheng/VCG via Getty Images

As electric vehicles become more widespread, a growing concern has developed on the minds of automakers and environmentalists alike. What, exactly, happens when an electric vehicle’s battery needs to be recycled? It’s not quite an existential question for the industry, but it is one that more and more people are trying to solve. And while there are certain things that old EV batteries can be used for, the question of recycling still looms large for the industry.

All of which makes the news that Redwood Materials has received a $2 billion loan from the U.S. government feel like an indication of a shift when it comes to EV battery recycling. Redwood Materials was founded by someone who knows quite a bit about electric cars: former Tesla chief technologist Jeffrey Straubel.

As The Verge reports, the government loan comes from a Department of Energy initiative: the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program., which began in 2007.

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Currently, Redwood Materials recycles EV batteries by removing elements from them, some of which can then be reused in new batteries. It’s worth mentioning that the company doesn’t only handle EV batteries; their website notes that they accept a wide variety of lithium-ion batteries for recycling purposes.

As Redwood Materials pointed out in an announcement of the loan, EV battery recycling is only one function of the $2 billion. That loan is also intended to help grow a domestic battery production industry. As The Verge reported, Redwood Materials’ next step is set to include producing its own cathode materials. That could be a big step in reducing waste — and in making the world of EV batteries that much more sustainable.

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