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Tesla co-founder JB Straubel receives backing from Amazon for battery material recycling venture

Tesla co-founder JB Straubel has received backing from Amazon for his battery material recycling venture: Redwood Materials.

Today, Amazon announced the first recipients of investments from The Climate Pledge Fund announced last year.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, commented:

“The Climate Pledge Fund invests in visionary companies whose products and services can empower a low carbon economy. Today, I am excited to announce that we are investing in a group of companies that are channeling their entrepreneurial energy into helping Amazon and other companies reach net zero by 2040 and keep the planet safer for future generations.”

Here are the first five companies to receive investments from the fund:

  • CarbonCure Technologies: Has commercialized a portfolio of carbon removal technologies that consume carbon dioxide (CO2) in concrete during production, permanently sequestering CO2 and enabling the reduction of cement content in mixes without impacting concrete performance. Amazon is working to lower the embodied carbon footprint of its buildings by using CarbonCure concrete in many of its new buildings, including HQ2 in Virginia.
  • Pachama: Pachama is a climate technology company that is democratizing access to nature-based carbon markets. Pachama’s technology verifies the impact of carbon capture in the world’s forests, allowing organizations and individuals to compensate their emissions with confidence by supporting reforestation and forest conservation projects. Pachama will help Amazon monitor and evaluate nature-based solutions, including investments made by the Right Now Climate Fund.
  • Redwood Materials: Developing and commercializing a full process and suite of technologies for recycling end-of-life Lithium-ion batteries and e-waste into high value metals and chemicals. With Amazon’s firm commitment to electric delivery and electrification infrastructure, Redwood Materials will help Amazon properly recycle Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries and reuse their components. Redwood Materials can also help recycle the lithium batteries and e-waste from other parts of Amazon’s businesses.
  • Rivian: As part of The Climate Pledge announcement in 2019, Amazon revealed it had purchased 100,000 EVs from Rivian, with plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030. The Climate Pledge Fund participated in Rivian’s latest investment round in July, and with proceeds from that investment, Rivian is further developing and integrating its connected electric platform with Amazon’s last mile delivery network.
  • Turntide Technologies: Turntide’s motors reduce energy use by 64% on average by optimizing efficiency and control without using expensive materials or rare earth minerals. Amazon is piloting Turntide’s motors in a number of its buildings and the results so far have demonstrated significantly reduced electricity usage.

At Electrek, we are particularly interested in Rivian and Redwood Materials.

Amazon’s investment in Rivian is not new. The online retail giant has been a major investor in the electric pickup truck manufacturer for over a year now.

But the announcement that Amazon is backing Redwood Materials is new and interesting information.

JB Straubel was an early founding member of Tesla and the company Chief Technology Officer until last summer.

He officially moved to an advisory role at the company, but it is believed to have been a symbolic move to soften the blow of Tesla’s longtime technology leader leaving the company.

As we reported at the time, Straubel was already becoming less present at Tesla months prior to the announcement and spending more time on his startup: Redwood Materials.

Redwood is developing processes to recycle battery materials to be reused in new batteries.

Last month, the company came out of stealth mode and revealed more about its operations — including the fact that it is testing its recycling process with scrap from Panasonic’s operations at Gigafactory Nevada.

Now, the investment from Amazon could also result in Redwood delveoping recycling systems for them.

Straubel commented:

“To fight climate change, we need to solve the impact products have on the environment. We’re honored to be part of the Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and to build the closed-loop supply chain that will recycle batteries, electronics and other end of life products for Amazon” 

Along with the investment from Amazon, Redwood has now confirmed that it raised $40 million from Capricorn Investment Group and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an environmental investment fund that includes Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates earlier this year.

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