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Redwood Materials: Daphne and Shreya meet with Seema Nilakhe for an introduction

Posted by Daphne Hulse on June 21, 2023

On June 21, 2023 Daphne Hulse and Shreya Mahajan met with Seema Nilakhe to discuss Redwood Materials and opportunity for collaboration.

  • Introductions

    • Seema Nilakhe, originally from Chicago suburbs, attended U of I

    • Amy Fruehling was career counselor for Seema during her undergraduate years

    • Dabbling in environmental initiatives

    • Worked at Amazon for supply chain

    • Worked at Tesla

      • Infrastructure projects in North America

    • Wanted to work at start up so went to Redwood Materials

      • Lithium ion batteries

      • Based out of Reno, Nevada

      • Consumer partnerships is Seema’s role

    • Don’t take

      • Lead acid

      • Cadmium

      • Car batteries

  • Daphne notes that the batteries Redwood would be interested in would likely come from university property, which is handled by CMS/Surplus/OBFS

    • Seema can assist with looking into this process

  • Redwood process:

    • Pickup batteries with large OEMs (large car companies that make EVs)

    • Redwood picks up scrap

    • Redwood partners with Call2Recycle

    • Typically you have to pay a fee for Call2Recycle for their services (U of I may have had the service for free?)

    • Collections would be the biggest benefit for us:

      • Cell phones, laptops, smaller devices are high in cobalt and nickel and critical elements that are part of the battery

      • Larger devices would need to be checked for logistics and chemistry

      • Pricing is based on gross weight

      • Collections - don’t provide packaging but suppliers have the drums, crates, or collection mechanism to do that

      • DOT shipping guidelines (Redwood has that and can give us a sample) we have to be in compliance

      • Under 60 watt hours

      • Engineering may have drums that we could use to ship the batteries

      • Gaylords work too

    • Differences between primary and secondary batteries

      • Primaries - non-rechargables

        • Watch batteries

        • Typically lithium ion

    • Have partners which take all of the excess materials that aren’t batteries

      • Secondary - rechargeable

Next steps:

  • CMS/Surplus - ask if they already recycle batteries, or need an outlet for it

  • Check inventory on drums and gaylords/shipping materials - Seema will send DOT guidelines

  • Event with marketing/public relations

  • Bin in the Union - how do you keep people from randomly throw items in there that are not batteries? Must be supervised

  • Stick to call2recycle for AA AAA alkaline