Toyota to use recycled Redwood materials
Metal Tech News - November 17, 2023
Last updated 11/27/2023 at 3:48pm
Future product will comprise 20% recycled nickel, 20% lithium, 50% cobalt, and 100% copper for world's most sustainable EV battery.
Last year, Redwood Materials Inc. partnered with Toyota Motor North America to create a closed-loop solution for electric vehicle batteries. Initially focused on the collection, testing, and recycling of Toyota hybrid EV batteries, the companies recently announced the next stage in their collaboration – utilizing Redwood's recycled materials as part of its EV production in the automaker's forthcoming North Carolina battery manufacturing plant.
Due to Toyota's history of producing the popular Toyota Prius, this represents the first time that an automaker is both recycling end-of-life hybrid EV batteries and then returning those same recycled metals into that same automaker's batteries for use in future hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
Aside from the collection, testing, and recycling of its hybrid EV batteries into like-new materials, the partnership was also intended to explore the viability of second-life batteries compared to first-generation virgin batteries.
Redwood's endeavors to determine the best methodologies for recycling Toyota batteries for the least loss of performance provided the automaker ample time to prepare health screening tools to collect this future valuable data from its vehicles.
Data on second-life batteries is something that has only just begun to be put into practice, as recycling technologies have yet to make it much further than lab testing. While it can be surmised that samples and prototypes utilizing recycled materials have long been prepared for top carmakers, mass practice is very different from controlled experimentation.
In an ideal scene, 100 EV batteries that have reached the end of their lifespans would be recycled to produce 100 new EV batteries with little to no loss from their initial production and output.
Although recycling technology has done much to catch up to the capabilities of new and unused materials, various impurities, loss of quality or degradation based on the laws of physics prevent a one-to-one ratio for recycled materials, but this hasn't stopped recyclers from getting as close as physically possible.
"Today, battery components are produced via a convoluted supply chain and then imported to the U.S. only for final battery cell assembly. Redwood is making major investments in the U.S. to change this, and we'll be spending billions of dollars to scale our technology and facilities in the next few years to bring cathode online and ramp production of critical battery components," Redwood penned in the announcement. "We continue to expand our Northern Nevada facility and will soon break ground on our second Battery Materials Campus, outside Charleston, South Carolina. Both of Redwood's campuses will recycle, refine, and manufacture battery materials, aiming to scale production of components to 100 GWh annually."
Under the latest arrangement, Toyota has agreed to use Redwood's recycled materials in its next lineup of electrified and all-electric vehicles – demonstrating the first notions of an actual circular ecosystem in the electric vehicle sector, the universally agreed upon endgame for recycling.
For Toyota's future products, Redwood is hoping for a minimum of 20% recycled nickel, 20% recycled lithium, 50% recycled cobalt in the cathode, and 100% recycled copper in the anode foil for the automaker's batteries. According to the company, this would make Toyota's batteries the most sustainable currently available on Earth.
"Ramping up a domestic battery materials supply chain and using the highest possible percent of local, recycled raw materials is the best way we can meet the United States' electrification goals," Redwood also wrote. "We're grateful to be working with Toyota and excited to further accelerate a sustainable transportation future through recycling and our domestic anode and cathode materials supply."