Feb. 14—World Bonobo Day! Good News for U.S. EV Battery Maker–Redwood Materials!

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Feb. 14 is World Bonobo Day! Good news for U.S. EV battery maker, Redwood, and meet Redwood Materials!



World BaNObo Day is on February 14. It raises awareness about man’s closest living relatives and ensures their continued existence. Bonobos are playful great apes and are one of nature’s ambassadors of peace. It’s fitting that on this Valentines’ Day, we also recognize a holiday dedicated to these creatures that are some of the most loving. 

World Bonobo Day spreads awareness about these mammals and educates people about them and the threats they face. Bonobos were first recognized as their own species in 1933. They’re only found in the rainforests along the south of the Congo River and are primarily herbivores but will sometimes dine on insects, and consume bats, flying squirrels, and small antelopes on rare occasions. 

Also known as pygmy chimpanzees, bonobos have been listed as an endangered species and, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, are facing the danger of possible extinction shortly. The shrinking bonobo populations can be attributed to poaching, hunting for their meat, and human activities. Contact with humans has also introduced zoonotic diseases such as Ebola to their population, further reducing their numbers in the wild. Currently, bonobos are protected by organizations like the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, the Friends of Bonobo, and Lola ya Bonobo in collaboration with local communities. Started by preservationists in 2015, the Bonobo Project seeks to conserve bonobos and take measures to increase their population. 

Why do bonobos matter to us? For Their remarkable humanlike abilities – Bonobos are known for self-medicating by combining certain plants to create remedies, and they also eat certain leaves with medicinal properties. Bonobos have superior intelligence and can even make simple tools like umbrellas and beds from leafy branches. Previously considered a human peculiarity, bonobos can make love to each other face-to-face and even kiss with their tongues.

DEEPER DIVE: Bonobo Conservation Initiative, Friends of Bonobo, Lola ya Bonobo, National Today, International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List



The Biden administration last week announced that it would issue a $2 billion loan to a battery manufacturing facility as it looks to bolster the country’s supply chain for electric vehicles. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said last week during a press conference, “The Department of Energy is proud to announce a conditional commitment for a $2 billion loan to Redwood Materials.”

If finalized, this $2 billion loan is going to help Redwood to complete this project to produce critical components for EV batteries. Granholm did not elaborate on what the conditions of the commitment are. It appears the loan would go to Redwood Materials for the expansion of a battery materials facility in McCarren, Nevada. 

The facility currently recycles batteries from electronics including cell phones, laptops and power tools and uses those materials to make components of electric vehicle batteries, according to the department. Redwood Materials founder and CEO JB Straubel said that with its expansion in the coming years, the facility will be able to produce materials for about a million electric vehicles each year. “This is a huge number, it’s a momentous project, but it will take many projects like this one, many companies like us, to do this,” Straubel said. “There is an incredible amount of work overall for our country ahead of us as we transition to a sustainable energy economy.”

Why does news of the Redwood loan matter to us? Two reasons. It got a republican governor on board good, clean climate jobs—3,400 construction jobs in fact, and another 1,600 full time jobs later on. Specifically, the announcement was celebrated by republican Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo. In fact, Lombardo now joins other Republican governors who have celebrated climate-friendly manufacturing coming to their home state despite the party’s continued support for fossil fuels. 

DEEPER DIVE: The Hill, Energy.gov, Redwood Materials



This is an interesting company. We just discovered Redwood Materials because of the Biden Administration’s announcement Jeffrey just described. The vision of this northern-Nevada-based company is “to make batteries sustainable and affordable, we need to close the loop at the end of life.” Its vision is to build a circular supply chain to power a sustainable world and accelerate the reduction of fossil fuels.

Redwood combines recycling, refining and remanufacturing to produce and return battery materials to U.S. battery cell manufacturers. It takes in end-of-life batteries, breaks them down to their basic metals (like nickel, copper, cobalt, and lithium) and then rebuilds those metals into cathode and anode products, the most critical and expensive components in an EV.

The company’s philosophy is that localizing the production of critical battery components and ensuring these materials are recycled is the only way to drive down costs, emissions, and geopolitical risks while meeting U.S. battery and electrification demand. Most significantly, Redwood will be producing anode and cathode components for the first time in America, and to do it from as many recycled parts as possible.

(You can’t get any more circular than that.) Redwood says it recovers 95% of key battery elements and supplies raw materials back to U.S. battery manufacturers. Late last year, the company chose the Charleston, SC area for its new battery materials campus. Charleston, SC is considered to be the heart of America’s Battery Belt.

America’s battery belt is a region of gigafactories mostly clustered in the Midwest and South. Since the beginning of 2021, more than 15 new US lithium-ion battery gigafactories or expansions have been announced in the region. A gigafactory is one that exceeds more than 10GWh of battery production capacity. Why does Redwood matter to us? The company has created partnerships with Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota and Panasonic to collect, recycle and manufacture battery materials from them.

DEEPER DIVE: Redwood Materials, Axios, Battery Belt