Redwood Materials to supply cathode materials to new Panasonic battery plant

Panasonic Energy announced this week that it has agreed to purchase cathode active materials and copper foil for lithium-ion batteries from Redwood Materials. The recycled cathode active materials will be used to make batteries at the company’s new $4 billion plant in De Soto, Kansas, starting in 2025 and the recycled copper foil will be used to make batteries at the plant. from Panasonic in Sparks, Nevada, starting in 2024. .

Panasonic Energy began partnering with Redwood Materials in 2019 when Redwood began recycling waste from the Nevada plant. The cathode active materials and copper foil covered by this agreement will be made from recycled materials, which will greatly contribute to Panasonic Energy’s goal of halving its carbon footprint by 2030 while increasing local sourcing. in North America.

“Both recycling and a localized supply chain are essential to making the most of limited natural resources,” said Kazuo Tadanobu, president and CEO of Panasonic Energy, in a press release. “Through this partnership with Redwood, Panasonic Energy will be able to use recycled materials in its high-quality automotive batteries and contribute to the circular economy. Additionally, the partnership allows us to source cathode active materials for North American facilities in North America, which is a powerful contributor to reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

“We have very high expectations for this partnership and look forward to continuing our progress towards zero emissions alongside our partner, Redwood Materials. With superior technology and vast experience, Panasonic Energy will continue to drive the growth of the lithium-ion battery industry and contribute to the company’s mission of achieving “a society in which the pursuit of happiness and a sustainable environment are harmonised,” he added.

“I think this is a bigger problem than is immediately obvious to most people simply because no one really sees or knows what cathode material is or where it goes,” said the CEO of Redwood Materials, JB Straubel. CNBC. “That can be around fifty percent of the battery cost.”

Currently, Panasonic imports nearly all of the cathode material used in the production of battery cells at its Sparks, Nevada plant. This factory supplies cells to the neighboring Tesla Gigafactory. The new Panasonic plant in Kansas will use high-nickel cathode material supplied by Redwood Materials when production begins in 2025.

For Straubel, the agreement with Panasonic Energy is further validation of its vision for Redwood Materials. When he launched the company in 2017, he told investors and those who followed the company that recycling batteries would be essential to the expansion and growth of electric vehicles, largely because it would be a more efficient and cost-effective way to supply the key components needed. for battery cells. “That’s part of the significance of this announcement,” he said. “This is the largest and first-ever Gigafactory-wide supply chain announcement for the battery supply chain in the United States.”

Redwood Materials currently employs about 600 people in the United States and estimates that number will grow to about 1,500 by the time it produces large quantities of high-nickel cathode materials. By 2030, the company plans to produce enough anode and cathode materials each year to power five million electric vehicles.

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