Panasonic has reached an agreement with Redwood Materials to source cathode materials and copper foil for electric car batteries. Redwood’s recycled cathode active materials will be used in battery cells at Panasonic’s planned plant in Kansas.
Construction of the battery factory in De Soto near Kansas City has already been underway for several weeks, with series production scheduled to begin at the end of March 2025. Then, not only will an annual production capacity of 30 GWh go into operation, but apparently cathode material from Redwood made from recycled feedstock will also be used directly.
Panasonic will use the recycled copper foil from 2024 in cells produced at the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, which is operated jointly with Tesla. Both the Nevada and Kansas plants will produce round cells in 2170 format. It is not known whether the cells from the two plants will differ in cell chemistry and who the customer or customers for the round cells from the new Kansas plant will be.
Panasonic’s partnership with Redwood began in 2019, and since then Redwood has been recycling waste material from the Nevada factory. Earlier this year, it was announced that Panasonic battery cells from Nevada would use more recycled materials from Redwood in the future. Redwood is known to no longer want to exclusively recycle waste batteries into its source raw materials, but to produce new battery materials from them itself – by 2025, cathode production is expected to be equivalent to 100 GWh of battery production.
““Recycling and a localizing supply chain are both essential to make the best use of limited natural resources,” says Kazuo Tadanobu, president and CEO of Panasonic Energy. “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. In addition, the partnership allows us to procure cathode active materials for North American facilities in North America, making a powerful contribution to the company’s carbon footprint reduction.”
Redwood will struggle to meet its needs for recyclable battery materials with the still rare, end-of-life electric car batteries and scrap from cell production alone. Therefore, the company not only uses electric car batteries for recycling, but also batteries from electronic devices. Audi dealers in the USA are now helping to collect the latter. People will be able to drop off their old electronic devices, such as smartphones and rechargeable batteries, in special recycling bins there
In July 2022, Volkswagen Group of America and Redwood had already entered into a cooperation to establish a supply chain for recycling electric car batteries in the USA.
panasonic.com (PDF), redwoodmaterials.com (Panasonic), redwoodmaterials.com (Audi)