Redwood Materials has recycled e-bike batteries and Tesla batteries. Now, it’s ready to flatten some shapes.
The electric vehicle battery recycling and manufacturing enterprise founded by Tesla’s former chief technologist today announced it will help decommission and recycle a 4MWh stationary storage substation in Kauai, Hawaii as part of a massive solar array. Recently decommissioned and the batteries are now being taken to the company’s facility in Northern Nevada for recycling.
This will be one of Redwood’s first battery energy storage systems and an important step in the company’s broader effort to prove that lithium-ion batteries and energy storage products of all sizes can find a new life beyond their current one.
It is ready to flatten certain shapes
For JB Straubel, former CTO of Tesla and founder of Redwood, it’s a project that’s completely done. Strobel was involved in the initial founding by Tesla in 2015.
The Kauai project includes a 52 megawatt-hour battery installation and a 13-MW SolarCity solar farm. Tesla and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), the power company ordering the project, initially said the project would reduce fossil fuel use by 1.6 million gallons per year.
“Hawaii has always been a leader when it comes to renewable energy deployment, having activated some of the earliest and largest solar plus storage projects on Earth,” Strobel said in a statement. “Our partnership with KIUC to decommission and recycle the first generation storage project at Anahola Substation reflects their true commitment to sustainability.”
To be sure, the batteries being deactivated and recycled are not Tesla batteries; Those batteries are on a separate KIUC installation. “He is still dying and will be for many years!” The company said.
The storage system that Redwood will recycle is KIUC’s Anahola Substation, a 4MWh battery storage system with a 6MW power rating that consists of lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide chemistry. The system consists of eight battery containers for a total of 2,320 modules weighing 44,544 kg (98,202 lb or 49 t).
Redwood sees big business in stationary storage decommissioning and recycling, noting that 4.8GW were installed in the US alone last year. The company recently partnered with Southern Company and EPRI to recycle one of the earliest grid-scale lithium-ion battery storage systems in Cedartown, Georgia.
“As we think about long-term battery circularity, stationary storage decommissioning and recycling are an integral part of our business,” the company said.
Redwood Materials was founded in 2017 by Straubel. In addition to breaking down scrap from Tesla’s battery manufacturing process with Panasonic, Redwood also recycles EV batteries from Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Specialized, Amazon, Lyft, Rad Power Bikes, and others. The company also produces anodes and cathodes, critical battery components, at a facility in South Carolina.
Many batteries in first-wave electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf are now reaching the end of their lifespan and need recycling. After receiving the batteries from its various partners, Redwood begins a chemical recycling process in which it extracts and refines the associated elements such as nickel, cobalt and copper. According to Redwood, a certain percentage of that refined material can be reintegrated into the battery making process – an average of 95 percent of key battery metals.