Who’s Biden backing on battery storage?

By BEN COOK

  • Biden-Harris administration awarded $2.8bn to US battery projects
  • A total of 20 companies in 12 states received funding
  • Contribution to local economies was key consideration in awards
  • Energy Storage Report provides funding breakdown and information on the key individuals responsible for project delivery

Two weeks ago, the Biden-Harris administration revealed the details of its plan to “supercharge” the manufacturing of batteries for energy storage and electric vehicles in the US.

The plan involves the Department of Energy (DOE) providing 20 US companies witha combined total of $2.8 billion to build and expand commercial-scale facilities in 12 states for the extraction and processing of lithium, graphite and other battery materials, as well as the manufacture of components, and the demonstration of “new approaches”, including producing components from recycled materials. 

Why? The US only has a very small lithium product industry and barely registers on a global scale – only 1% of the world’s lithium products are made in the US.

The announcement of this funding – which is provided under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – is an attempt to make the US a competitor in the global lithium product market.

The new plan will also see the 20 companies contribute an additional $9 billion to the projects in an effort to “boost American production of clean energy technology and create good-paying jobs”.

The new and expanded facilities funded through these awards are expected to cumulatively support more than 8,000 jobs, including 5,000 permanent jobs, according to the Department of Energy. 

One of the key considerations for the funding awards was the potential for projects to have a significant impact on the local economy. It was therefore unsurprising that a total of $491million was awarded to three projects in Tennessee (which is ranked among the 10 poorest US states, with a poverty rate of nearly 14%), while a total of $480 million was assigned to projects in Kentucky, which has a poverty rate of 16.3% – a total of two projects in Kentucky were awarded funding, both of which will be developed by Ascend Elements (indeed, one of the Ascend projects received the biggest individual award, a total of $316 million).

Similarly, there were two other US states that are ranked among the 10 poorest in the US that also received funding awards. Two projects in Louisiana (which has a poverty rate of 19%) were awarded $219 million and $100 million respectively, while a project involving the construction of 35,000 tons per annum of new synthetic graphite anode material capacity for lithium-ion batteries in Alabama (which has a poverty rate of 15.5%) was awarded $117 million.

But exactly what contribution will each project make to the locality in which it is situated? Which companies will be tasked with delivering the projects? And who are the key individuals at the companies who will be responsible for ensuring that the projects come to fruition? And exactly how much of its own money is each company putting into each project?

On the subject of the business leaders who will be responsible for overseeing the projects – Tesla is clearly a breeding ground for future battery company executives, with three of the senior figures overseeing the schemes having formerly been employed as engineers at the electric vehicle manufacturer.

Here, Energy Storage Report brings you the lowdown on each of the 21 projects (involving 20 companies):

6K INC

PROJECT NAME: Plasma Low-cost Ultra Sustainable Cathode Active Material (PLUS CAM)

Federal Cost Share: $50,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $57,395,080

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Cathode)

Key figure: Richard Holman, senior vice president, battery products Holman will lead the project on behalf of 6K Inc as principal investigator. Holman spent over ten years at A123Systems where he joined at its inception and ultimately served as director of core cell engineering, followed by six years at 24M technologies where he served as VP of product development working on next-generation lithium-ion technology.  

Project details: 6K Inc plans to demonstrate the ability to domestically produce multiple battery chemistries namely NMC811 and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) in a plant with the capacity of 3,000 tpa (tonnes per annum) ready for production in 2025 scaling to 10,000 tpa in 2026.

Location: Final sites are in the Southeastern US and final site selection is scheduled to be completed in December 2022.

How will the local community benefit? The high-tech demonstration plant will employ a workforce of up to 150, including a minimum of 40% of new employees coming from disadvantaged communities and being paid wages higher than the prevailing rate.

ALBEMARLE U.S. INC.

PROJECT NAME: Kings Mountain Lithium Materials Processing Plant

Federal Cost Share: $149,658,312

Recipient Cost Share: $225,866,921

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Cathode Minerals)

Key figure: Kent Masters, CEO Former chief executive officer of Foster Wheeler AG, a global engineering and construction contractor and power equipment supplier. 

Project details: The project objective is to construct a new, commercial-scale US-based lithium materials processing plant at Kings Mountain, North Carolina, that uses sustainably extracted spodumene minerals from the site’s lithium mine.

Location: North Carolina

Community Benefits: The 200 plus full-time highly skilled jobs in mineral processing will be located in Kings Mountain, supported by a dedicated mineral processing operator training program at Cleveland Community College through a $5 million grant, a minerals lab research program at Virginia Tech through a $1.5 million grant, and a minerals pilot plant and engineering training program at North Carolina State University’s Asheville Minerals Research Lab through a $1.5 million grant.

AMERICAN BATTERY TECHNOLOGY COMPANY

PROJECT NAME: Large-Scale Demonstration of Domestic Manufacturing of Low-Cost and Low Environmental Impact Battery-Grade Lithium Hydroxide from Unconventional Domestic Sedimentary Resources

Federal Cost Share: $57,744,831

Recipient Cost Share: $57,744,831

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Cathode Minerals)

Key figure: Ryan Melsert, CEO Melsert previously served as R&D Manager for Tesla’s Gigafactory Battery Materials Processing group.

Project details: American Battery Technology Company (ABTC) and partners will build, and operate a commercial-scale facility to demonstrate its “novel process” for manufacturing battery cathode grade lithium hydroxide (LiOH) from “unconventional” Nevada-based lithium-bearing sedimentary resources.

Location: Nevada. ABTC has secured over 10,000 acres of lithium-bearing sedimentary resources near Tonopah, Nevada. A 5,000 MT (metric tonnes) LiOH/year commercial processing plant will be constructed and operated at the resource site.

Community Benefits: More than 150 new skilled regional jobs will be created.

AMPRIUS

PROJECT NAME: Large scale manufacturing of silicon nanowire anode electrodes by direct gas-to-electrode manufacturing

Federal Cost Share: $50,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $140,103,890

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Electrodes)

Key figure: Kang Sun, CEO Prior to Amprius, Dr. Sun led two business ventures in the renewable energy sector – JA Solar Co. Ltd. (launched IPO on NASDAQ) and RayTracker Inc. (acquired by First Solar Inc). 

Project details: The objective of this program is to demonstrate the manufacturing of silicon nanowire anode technology at the component and cell level on multi-MWh-scale manufacturing lines that are comparable to those used in multi-GWh factories.

Location: To be confirmed

How will the community benefit? Amprius’ plan includes creating 332 new jobs wherever the project is ultimately located, with approximately 300 positions sourced locally with a “recruiting emphasis in disadvantaged communities”.

ANOVION LLC

PROJECT NAME: Scaling the Domestic, US Owned and Operated Anode Supply Chain for Synthetic Graphite

Federal Cost Share: $117,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $294,000,000

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Anode Materials)

Key figure: Eric Stopka, CEO Recently served as the vice president, chief financial officer at Amsted Rail and has held a variety of roles at Amsted Industries.

Project details: Anovion, with its partners, collaborators and stakeholders, will build 35,000 tons per annum of new synthetic graphite anode material capacity for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and critical energy storage applications.

Location: Northern Alabama

How will the community benefit? In partnership with community organizations like Niagara County and State University of New York (SUNY) – University of Buffalo, Anovion will advance degree attainment programs targeted towards disadvantaged communities (DAC).

APPLIED MATERIALS, INCORPORATED

PROJECT NAME: Advanced Prelithiation and Lithium Anode Manufacturing Facility

Federal Cost Share: $100,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $124,010,435

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Electrodes)

Key figure: Gary E. Dickerson Prior to joining Applied Materials in 2012, Dickerson was CEO of Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates, Inc. for seven years.

Project details: Applied Materials, Inc. intends to set up an advanced prelithiation and lithium anode manufacturing facility to accelerate the transition to next-generation lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and enable the development of a robust U.S. battery component supply chain.

Location: North Carolina

How will the community benefit? Applied Materials says it anticipates hiring around 90 full-time employees and approximately 350-400 contingent workers for a range of jobs including construction.

ASCEND ELEMENTS (TWO PROJECTS)

PROJECT ONE NAME: Apex – Integrated Sustainable Battery Precursor

Federal Cost Share: $316,186,575

Recipient Cost Share: $316,186,575

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Cathode Minerals)

Project details: Ascend Elements will establish industrial scale U.S. production capacity of sustainable, low-cost precursor cathode materials by integrating the separation of critical cathode materials from spent lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) with the production of both precursor cathode active materials (pCAM) and metal salts to support domestic production of cathode active material (CAM).

Location: The proposed facility will be built on an existing greenfield site in Hopkinsville, a disadvantaged community (DAC) in southwestern Kentucky.

How will the community benefit? The project will generate $4.4 billion in total economic impact during its three-year construction period and over the first 10 years of operation. The project will create more than 270 “quality, good-paying jobs” that offer benefits such as healthcare and stock options. Ascend Elements also plans to offer community benefits such as workforce training and education, affordable childcare, and affordable transportation initiatives to raise equity levels in the greater Hopkinsville community.

PROJECT TWO NAME: Apex – Integrated Sustainable Battery Active Material Production Plant

Federal Cost Share: $164,395,625

Recipient Cost Share: $164,395,625

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Cathode)

Project details: Ascend Elements will plan, design, and construct a cathode active materials (CAM) plant at a greenfield site in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and install all manufacturing equipment.

Location: Hopkinsville, Kentucky

How will the community benefit? The CAM project will create $299M in economic impact during construction and $123M per year in ongoing activity. It will also create more than 130 “high-quality, good-paying jobs and offer benefits such as healthcare and stock options”.

Key figure at Ascend Elements: Mike O’Kronley, CEO Previously the head of corporate strategy at A123 Systems – has also previously held management, business development, operations and engineering roles at Metaldyne Corp. and Robert Bosch.

CIRBA SOLUTIONS (PREVIOUSLY RETRIEV SOLUTIONS, LLC)

PROJECT NAME: North America Expansion Plan Lancaster, OH Plant Expansion – Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling to Produce Battery-Grade Raw Materials

Federal Cost Share: $74,999,925

Recipient Cost Share: $107,515,014

Supply Chain Segment: Recycling

Key figure: David Klanecky, CEO Formerly EVP & chief operating officer at Piedmont Lithium

Project details: Funding will be used to expand and upgrade Cirba Solutions’ existing lithium-ion recycling facility.

Location: Lancaster, Ohio

How will the community benefit? The expanded facility is expected to provide up to an estimated 150 jobs (creating 40 skilled positions initially).

MEMBRANE HOLDINGS LLC – ENTEK

PROJECT NAME: ENTEK US Lithium Separator Manufacturing Project

Federal Cost Share: $200,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $1,240,172,135

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Separator)

Key figure: Kimberley Medford, president – extruders A lawyer by background, Medford was ENTEK’s outside counsel prior to joining the company

Project details: ENTEK is scaling up its production with the construction of a new US separator plant with capacity of 1-1.8 billion squared meters per year, enough for around 1.4 million electric vehicles.

Location: To be confirmed

How will the community benefit? The Department of Energy said: “A primary consideration for ENTEK’s site is early community engagement to provide community benefits based on local need. While one community might struggle with food accessibility, another prioritizes support for education and employment opportunities in disadvantaged communities.”

GROUP14 TECHNOLOGIES INC

PROJECT NAME: Commercial Manufacturing of a Stable Silicon Anode Material Towards Fostering a Strong U.S. Battery Supply Chain

Federal Cost Share: $100,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $ $222,936,774

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Anode)

Key figure: Eric (Rick) Luebbe, CEO Prior to founding Group14,army veteran Luebbe co-founded EnerG2 as CEO from 2003 until its acquisition by BASF in 2016.

Project details: Group14’s next-generation silicon-carbon composite to displace graphite in lithium-ion battery (LIB) anodes facilitates dramatic reductions in battery cost and carbon footprint on a per unit basis compared to incumbent graphite anode material. Group14 intends to build two 2,000 ton per year commercial manufacturing modules.

Location: Washington

How will the community benefit? To support the project, Group14 has already engaged with over 20 community-based organizations in Washington State, including four local labor unions and worker organizations, three tribal nations, local government, technical schools and community colleges, and other community-based organizations. Group14 expects to employ a highly skilled, diverse workforce, adding 500 employees for the construction and operation of the plant. This will create 300 new “well-paying” skilled trade jobs to construct the plant and an additional 200 technical/operational jobs to commission, ramp up, and sustain production.

ICL-IP AMERICA INC.

PROJECT NAME: Commercial Production of Lithium Iron Phosphate Cathode Powder for the Global Lithium Battery Industry

Federal Cost Share: $197,338,492

Recipient Cost Share: $232,262,211

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Cathode)

Key figure: Phil Brown, president, phosphate specialties solutions Prior to joining ICL, Brown was operations manager at CP Kelco from 1997 to 2006

Project details: ICL-IP America Inc. intends to build a plant to produce high-quality lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode powder for the global lithium battery industry using primarily a domestic supply chain.

Location: Expansion of the existing ICL-IP facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

How will the community benefit? The plant will employ approximately 150 people once fully operational. The company will hire most of the employees locally, “collaborating with the workers’ unions when possible”.

KOURA, PART OF ORBIA FLUORINATED SOLUTIONS, (FORMERLY MEXICHEM FLUOR, INCORPORATED)

PROJECT NAME: LiPF6 Manufacturing Plant in St. Gabriel, Louisiana

Federal Cost Share: $100,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $306,584,087

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Precursor)

Key figure: Sameer Bharadwaj, CEO of Orbia Prior to joining Orbia in 2016, Bharadwaj was vice president and general manager at Cabot Corporation

Project details: Koura plans to build the “first US manufacturing plant for lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6)”.

Location: The grounds of the company’s existing fluorochemical production site in St. Gabriel, Louisiana.

How will the community benefit? Koura’s LiPF6 plant will expand employment at the St. Gabriel facility by up to 80 new jobs and provide an opportunity to expand company activities in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) across the greater Baton Rouge region, including job training, internship programs, and funding scholarships.

LILAC SOLUTIONS

PROJECT NAME: Unlocking U.S. Lithium Production

Federal Cost Share: $50,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $129,322,049

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Cathode Minerals)

Key figure: David Snydacker, CEO Founded Lilac in 2016. A materials engineer and an expert in battery technology, with experience spanning multiple battery start-ups.

Project details: Lilac’s project will demonstrate the production of lithium at commercially relevant scales (TRL 9) using the company’s IX lithium extraction technology.

Location: Fernley, Nevada

How will the community benefit? Lilac anticipates that the financial assistance provided by DOE funds will significantly accelerate production of lithium within the US and that the project and its associated support needs will create 250 new jobs in Nevada, Utah, and California.

MICROVAST

PROJECT NAME: Thermally Stable Polyaramid Separator U.S. Manufacturing Plant

Federal Cost Share: $200,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $304,540,145

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Separator)

Key figure: Yang Wu, CEO Before founding Microvast, Wu founded water purification business Omex Environmental Engineering in 2000. 

Project details: Microvast will build a separator facility capable of supplying 19 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of EV batteries, including their existing 2 GWh battery plant in Clarkesville, Tennessee.

Location: Tennessee

How will the community benefit? Microvast is ready to expand its production capacity from a demonstration plant of 5 million square meters to one capable of 300 million square meters of output per year (19 GWh, 380k 50kWh EVs) at a new production facility creating up to 700 new jobs.

NOVONIX ANODE MATERIALS LLC

PROJECT NAME: Large Scale, Energy Efficient, Domestic Production of High-performance Synthetic Graphite Anode Material for Use in Electric Vehicles and Energy Storage Systems

Federal Cost Share: $150,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $877,260,704

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Anode Materials)

Key figure: Chris Burns, CEO Co-founded NOVONIX Battery Technology Solutions in Canada in 2013, formerly senior research engineer at TESLA.

Project details: NOVONIX Anode Materials LLC will build a new plant in Chattanooga to produce 30,000 metric tons per year of graphite targeted at the electric vehicle industry.

Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee.

How will the community benefit? The project will “directly create over 1,000 clean-energy, good-paying jobs”.

PIEDMONT LITHIUM INC.

PROJECT NAME: Tennessee Lithium

Federal Cost Share: $141,680,442

Recipient Cost Share: $430,356,259

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Cathode Minerals)

Key figure: Keith Phillips, CEO Phillips was previously a senior advisor with merchant banker Maxit Capital, after formerly leading the mining investment banking teams for Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, JPMorgan and Dahlman Rose.

Project details: Piedmont is designing Tennessee Lithium to be a world-class lithium hydroxide facility and a large, low-cost contributor to the battery manufacturing supply chain with a sustainability footprint that is superior to incumbent producers.

Location: McMinn County, Tennessee.

How will the community benefit? Piedmont Lithium plans to invest approximately $600 million in the development of Tennessee Lithium, drive significant economic activity, and create approximately 120 new, direct jobs.

SILA NANOTECHNOLOGIES

PROJECT NAME: Auto Scale Silicon Anode Plant

Federal Cost Share: $100,000,000

Recipient Cost Share: $300,000,000

Supply Chain Segment: Component Manufacturing (Anode)

Key figure: Gene Berdichevsky, CEO Prior to co-founding Sila, Berdichevsky was the seventh employee at Tesla Motors where he served as principal engineer on the ‘Roadster’ battery.

Project details: These funds will support the build-out of a 600,000-square-foot factory housed in Moses Lake, Washington, that will produce lithium-ion anode materials.

Location: Washington

How will the community benefit? Sila expects to hire and train 150- 300 additional technologists through the project’s completion.

SOLVAY SPECIALTY POLYMERS USA

PROJECT NAME: Solvay Battery-Grade PVDF Manufacturing Facility

Federal Cost Share: $178,218,568

Recipient Cost Share: $178,218,569

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Precursor)

Key figure: Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay Prior to joining Solvay, Ilham Kadri was CEO and president of Diversey in the US.

Project details: Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC intends to build a new battery-grade polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) facility in Augusta, Georgia, to supply the needs of the North American electric vehicle (EV) and stationary energy storage market.

Location: Augusta, Georgia

How will the community benefit?
The proposed project is expected to create more than 500 local construction jobs and 100 highly skilled manufacturing jobs, with potentially more than 500 indirect jobs created across the value chain.

SYRAH TECHNOLOGIES LLC

PROJECT NAME: Phase 3 Expansion of Syrah’s Commercial-Scale Natural Graphite Active Anode Material Facility in Vidalia, Louisiana

Federal Cost Share: $219,820,610

Recipient Cost Share: $224,996,240

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Anode Materials)

Key figure: Shaun Verner, CEO Prior to joining Syrah, Shaun was at BHP for 20 years in a variety of executive roles.

Project details: Construction of a new 11,250 metric tons per annum (tpa) active anode material (AAM) facility is underway, with start of production scheduled for the third quarter of 2023. This project will expand the production capacity of the Vidalia, Louisiana AAM facility from 11,250tpa to at least 45,000tpa AAM.

Location: Louisiana

How will the community benefit? The initial expansion of Vidalia’s production capacity will add 101 jobs and the phase 3 expansion is expected to add 120 jobs in rural Vidalia, Louisiana.

TALON NICKEL (USA) LLC

PROJECT NAME: Project “Double Play”: An Advanced Domestic Battery Minerals Processing Facility

Federal Cost Share: $114,846,344

Recipient Cost Share: $318,025,927

Supply Chain Segment: Materials Separation & Processing (Cathode Minerals)

Key figure: Henri van Rooyen, CEO of Talon Prior to Talon, Van Rooyen was a member of Tau Capital, a private investment and advisory services company.

Project details: Talon Nickel (USA) LLC plans to construct a battery minerals processing facility in Mercer County, North Dakota, to support a new domestic cathode supply chain in the US.

Location: North Dakota

How will the community benefit? From mine to battery production, Talon and Tesla plan to create a domestic supply chain from primary (mined) nickel ore through to recycling. Talon is “committed to working with unions, local communities, and tribal governments to ensure its facility has broad support, strong environmental protections, and contributes to the local economy”.

IMAGE: (Top row, left to right) Kimberly Medford (ENTEK), Ilham Kadri (Solvay), and Sameer Bharadwaj (Orbia); (Middle row, left to right) Kent Masters (Ablemarle), Richard Holman (6K Inc), Eric (Rick) Luebbe (Group14), Kang Sun (Amprius), Eric Stopka (Anovion); (Bottom row, left to right) David Klanecky (Cirba Solutions), Mike O’Kronley (Ascend Elements), Yang Wu (Microvast), David Snydacker (Lilac Solutions), Ryan Melsert (American Battery Technology Company)

Be the first to comment on "Who’s Biden backing on battery storage?"

Let us know what you think. Please leave a comment.