On October 19, 2022, the White House announced that the Department of Energy had awarded $2.8B to 20 American companies with the specific goal of reshoring the US battery supply chain.
With an average grant size of $140MM, the BIL awards represent an industry-changing moment in the Biden administration’s efforts to boost American manufacturing within the clean energy sector. The biggest of these is a $316MM grant awarded to Ascend Elements, Inc. to build a cathode manufacturing facility in Hopkinsville, KY. The White House claims that “all projects will develop enough lithium to supply over 2 million electric vehicles annually and establish significant domestic production of graphite and nickel.”
Aionics spoke with two winners: ICL-IP America, Inc., and Koura, a part of Orbia Fluorinated Solutions. Both companies won awards to manufacture materials that are currently made almost exclusively in Asia today: ICL-IP won $197MM to manufacture lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode material in St. Louis, MO, and Koura won $100MM to set up the US’s first manufacturing facility for common electrolyte salt lithium hexafluorophosphate in St. Gabriel, LA.
Exclusive Q&A with ICL-IP
Aionics: What does the successful BIL award represent to ICL?
ICL: This is a fantastic opportunity for ICL to lead in the development of a sustainable supply chain for energy storage solutions in the U.S. The $197 million investment from the Department of Energy (DOE) will help us accelerate our efforts to build a 120,000-square-foot LFP plant in St. Louis. The new facility is expected to have two production lines built in two phases under a single roof, each producing 15,000 metric tons of LFP material per year. With the acceleration, we expect phase one to be complete by 2024, and total production of 30,000 metric tons is expected by 2025.
Aionics: How will BIL help ICL improve infrastructure and manufacturing with the US?
ICL: Even as the demand for lithium batteries has continued to grow, there have been no large-scale manufacturers of LFP material in the United States. The BIL grant will help fund our expansion in St. Louis and means we’ll be able to develop the first large-scale LFP material manufacturing plant in the United States. The investment from the DOE is crucial to building a domestic manufacturing resource that can compete globally while providing a much-needed safety net for American manufacturers in the E.V., battery, and energy-storage industries.
Aionics: How does ICL see the future of the energy supply chain?
ICL: We’re excited to be a part of this critical and growing area and pleased to see a variety of industries coming together to help meet the challenges facing the U.S. The recent DOE grants spanned companies across the supply chain. They will strengthen the energy supply chain in the U.S. Recycling is also becoming essential to address the growing use of battery minerals, which is another area of interest for ICL. In parallel to the increasing demand for the E.V. market, stationary storage also represents a significant opportunity. Many are looking for non-lithium ion battery technologies in which chemistries like zinc bromide can fit very well.
When asked about the future of the US-based battery supply chain, Dr. Miki Oljaca, Vice President of Growth and Technology at Orbia Fluorinated Solutions (Koura), shared the following with Aionics:
“We believe that the future will be powered by lithium-ion batteries, and enabling their domestic production is becoming increasingly important. A recognition of this caliber from the U.S. Department of Energy propels us forward to tackle the present challenge of the domestic supply chain for lithium-ion batteries. We are uniquely positioned to innovate with our ‘mine-to-market’ capability to meet modern needs for resilience and energy independence.”
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