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Redwood cinches US Battery Belt campus

To begin development early 2023, production by year's end Metal Tech News - December 15, 2022

As recycling becomes more prominent in the restructuring of basically everything toward decarbonization and electrification, Redwood Materials Inc. announced its biggest move yet, a new battery materials campus in the heart of the "Battery Belt" just outside Charleston, South Carolina.

Currently, anode and cathode components are not produced in North America, and battery cell manufacturers must source them via a 50,000-mile-plus global supply chain. As a result, U.S. battery manufacturers will have to spend more than $150 billion overseas on these components by 2030 alone.

To combat this, a new manufacturing corridor from Michigan to Georgia is becoming known as America's Battery Belt and is where hundreds of gigawatt-hours-a-year of battery cell production capacity will be built and start operating between now and 2030.

However, unless metals like lithium and nickel are produced and refined and remain in the country for domestic anode and cathode manufacturing at scale, these American battery cell facilities will have to continually import the majority of their components, predominantly from Asia, to meet demand.

This will export most (50-75%) of the economic value and job creation from the production of lithium-ion batteries powering the electric vehicle revolution overseas.

In response to this looming expense, many companies are forming localized chains from mine to product within the new Battery Belt – Redwood included.

Combining recycling, refining, and remanufacturing to produce and return battery materials to U.S. battery cell manufacturers, Redwood began its recycling endeavors by aiming toward a more grassroots approach.

Junk drawers, hand-me-downs, or last-gen models currently in disuse, Redwood markets a reliable and sustainable way to recycle your old electronics to be reused in clean, green ways.

However, due to the massive demand for battery metals and minerals, it has chosen to expand its recycling facilities with a new battery materials campus.

Full-scale campus

To be built at Camp Hall in Berkeley County, South Carolina, Redwood will recycle, refine and manufacture anode and cathode components on more than 600 acres, creating more than 1,500 jobs and investing $3.5 billion in the local community.

Eventually, Redwood foresees this campus will produce roughly 100 gigawatt-hours of cathode and anode components per year – enough to power more than one million electric vehicles.

With a goal to break ground in the first quarter and have its first recycling process running by the end of 2023, Redwood plans to do it right and, much like its Nevada operations, will be operated 100% electric.

Why South Carolina?

Home to more than 500 automotive companies and a strong contender for auto capital of America, South Carolina has capitalized on its present infrastructure and influence and added a newly forged commitment to a secure energy future in a competitive landscape for EV manufacturing.

As an added benefit, Redwood's existing partners, like Toyota, Volvo, Panasonic, and Envision AESC, also have a strong foothold in the area, as well as many other battery manufacturers.

With Charleston being consistently awarded one of the top cities in the world to live, work, and visit, Redwood felt it was the smartest decision to introduce its green technology to this already bountiful locale.

In the end, with increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries, the ability to import raw materials, which Redwood will also be able to refine at its future site, presents its most significant advantage.

This advantageous transport infrastructure includes the Port of Charleston and rail access.

When paired with the benefits of the recent Inflation Reduction Act, this strategic location also allows Redwood the opportunity to invest more heavily at home while potentially exporting components in the future, allowing the U.S. to become a global leader in battery manufacturing capability.

With the addition of Redwood to the Battery Belt, the new corridor will have the final piece needed to cinch the whole thing together, and a circular economy can begin to be tied around the waist of America.


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