The processes of recycling companies look almost the same to an outside observer. The batteries are disassembled and crushed, and the resulting powder is dissolved before being subjected to various chemical techniques. But the details will be a key deciding factor in how much valuable material recyclers can recover, and thus how much money they can make.
Thanks to advances in these processes, the prospects for building a business around battery recycling have improved. The same dynamic is happening in solar panel recycling, where companies are working to recover silver and other expensive materials from the devices.
On a personal level, I believe that finding ways to recycle and reuse materials in order to reduce waste and destructive mining is a worthwhile goal in itself. But profitability is a surefire way to make battery recycling more likely.
We are still in the early days of battery recycling. China has funded and encouraged a massive industry, and now Europe and North America are catching up, with companies raising hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and building multibillion-dollar facilities.
To learn more about battery recycling, I checked out one such company, Redwood Materials. If you want to learn more about what Redwood is trying to do or the challenges the company is facing, check out my story that came out yesterday. I also spoke with JB Straubel, founder of Redwood Materials and former chief technology officer at Tesla, about where he thinks the industry is headed. An edited version of our conversation can be found here.
Following the weather
Climeworks announced that it does began to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at its Orca plant in Iceland. (Wall Street Journal)
→ The plant may not be big, but this is an important step for carbon removal, which was one of our breakthrough technologies in 2022. (MIT Technology Review)
The western United States is experiencing record snowfall. Don’t expect the drought to hurt you, though. (Grid News)