Redwood Materials, the Nevada based battery recycler which surfaced from stealth mode as late as 2020 has announced they are building a cathode a battery material business which already in 2025 will produce cathode material enough for 100GWh of lithium-ion batteries.
The two products in focus will be anode copper foil and cathode active materials. In 2030 the plan is to be to produce as much as 500 GWh/year which is on par with Circular Energy Storage's estimate for the global volume of batteries placed on the market in 2022 and more than 10 times the current volume of LIBs placed on the US market today.
In a statement from Redwood the company emphasizes its dedication to recycling and to create a circular value chain. It is however obvious that the main part of the company's volumes will come from virgin resources the next 10-15 years. In Circular Energy Storage's forecast the amount of batteries available for recycling in 2030 amounts to 164 GWh of nameplate capacity on global scale, production scrap unaccounted for. With production scrap the amount will equate to around 360 GWh.
With the move downstream Redwood follow the strategies of Chinese companies such as GEM, Brunp and Fangyuan Environmental Protection which all started as recyclers and later integrated forward. Fangyuan, which is one of Panasonic's main suppliers for NCA cathode, has in fact barely any remaining recycling activity left. Other companies, not least in South Korea but also in Europe and China, are going in the other direction, by adding recycling to their cathode production.
As cathode producer with integrated recycling capabilities Redwood will be able to take full advantage of the secondary feedstock with higher margins than both other cathode producers and recyclers which remain dedicated to only one part of the value chain. They will also be able to source material more efficiently, as they have higher leverage of the scrap.
More about Redwood's plans here.