Ford and Redwood Materials builds out domestic battery supply chain

The collaboration’s goal is to make electric vehicles more sustainable.

Redwood Materials plans to recover elements from recycling electric batteries, which will then be used to make anode copper foil and cathode active materials to supply to battery manufacturers.

Ford Motor Co. has teamed with Redwood Materials to build out battery recycling and a domestic battery supply chain for electric vehicles. The goal is to make electric vehicles more sustainable, drive down the cost of batteries and make electric vehicles more affordable.

Ford is investing more than $30 billion in electrification through 2025, including its collaboration with Redwood.

Redwood has developed a recycling technology that can recover, on average, more than 95% of the elements like nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. These materials can be reused in a closed-loop, with Redwood producing anode copper foil and cathode active materials for future battery production. By using locally produced, recycled battery materials, Ford can drive down costs, increase battery materials supply and reduce its reliance on imports and mining for raw materials.

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“Ford is making electric vehicles more accessible and affordable through products like the all-electric F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit, and much more to come,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. “Our partnership with Redwood Materials will be critical to our plan to build electric vehicles at scale in America, at the lowest possible cost and with a zero-waste approach.”

This builds on Ford’s plan to scale battery production through multiple BlueOvalSK battery plants in North America starting mid-decade. BlueOvalSK is the U.S. joint venture between Ford and SK Innovation, which is currently in the formation process as it awaits the final agreements, regulatory approvals and other conditions.

Battery manufacturer SK Innovation announced in mid-2020 that it had chosen a site in Georgia for a new $940 million facility that will create 600 jobs making lithium-ion batteries. This will be its second facility in Georgia — the first, announced in March 2020, is 65 miles northeast of Atlanta. At the time of these announcements, SK Innovation supplied batteries to Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai-Kia Motors and Ford Motor Co.

Nevada-based Redwood plans to produce battery materials for U.S. partners. The local supply of anode copper foil and cathode active materials is key to Ford’s commitment to reducing environmental impact of battery manufacturing.

“Increasing our nation’s production of batteries and their materials through domestic recycling can serve as a key enabler to improve the environmental footprint of U.S. manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, decrease cost and, in turn, drive up domestic adoption of electric vehicles,” said JB Straubel, CEO of Redwood Materials. “Redwood and Ford share an understanding that to truly make electric vehicles sustainable and affordable, we need to localize the existing complex and expensive supply chain network, create pathways for end-of-life vehicles, ramp lithium-ion recycling and increase battery production, all here in America.”

Ford North America Chief Operating Officer Lisa Drake added, “Our work with Redwood will, by design, help ensure the infrastructure is in place to cost-effectively recycle end-of-life Ford batteries to create a robust domestic materials stream and drive down the cost of electric vehicles.”

Here in the South, Ford has the Kentucky Truck Plant making Super Duty pickups, Expedition and Expedition EL/Max SUVs and Lincoln Navigator and Navigator L SUVs. It also has the Louisville Assembly plant that makes Ford Escape and the Lincoln Corsair.

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