The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding a combined $2.8 billion to 21 projects to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and the electrical grid and for materials and components currently imported from other countries. (Earlier post.) Of that, $1.16 billion will go to 9 projects in the component manufacturing segment of the supply chain. The awardees are:
Component Manufacturing (Anode)
Applied Materials, Advanced Prelithiation and Lithium Anode Manufacturing Facility, $100,000,000. 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 US battery component supply chain.
The proposed facility will support industrial-scale production of advanced lithiated anodes for multiple battery cell makers and automobile manufacturers. Nameplate production capacity of the factory would be >5GWh (gigawatt-hour) to meet customer demand.
Under currently funded programs by the Department of Energy and the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, Applied Materials has developed a scalable, high-volume manufacturing roll-to-roll solution that provides customers with high-quality, ultra-thin lithium films for pre-lithiation of graphite or silicon anodes as well as lithium metal anodes. It has been demonstrated that these advanced anodes can be paired with any commercial cathode material, resulting in significant improvements in cell energy density, power density, cycle life and charge rate.
Group14 Technologies, Commercial Manufacturing of a Stable Silicon Anode Material Towards Fostering a Strong US Battery Supply Chain, $100,000,000. Group14’s next-generation silicon-carbon composite to displace graphite in lithium-ion battery (LIB) anodes, called SCC55, facilitates significant reductions in battery cost and carbon footprint on a per unit basis compared to incumbent graphite anode material.
SCC55 is an innovative composite of amorphous, nano- sized silicon within a porous carbon scaffold. This patented structure results in high-energy density, cycle stability, and fast charge capability. SCC55 can be deployed directly in current LIB production equipment with very low switching costs and rapid implementation timelines.
Group14 intends to build two 2,000 ton per year commercial manufacturing modules. The engineering unit operations and reactor designs are validated via the company’s Washington State commercial launch factory that has already produced and shipped multiple tons of SCC55 to customers worldwide.
Sila Nanotechnologies, Auto Scale Silicon Anode Plant, $100,000,000. These funds will support the build-out of a 600,000 sq ft factory housed in Moses Lake, Washington, that will produce lithium-ion anode materials. The project is expected to begin production of Sila’s proprietary silicon anode material in 2025, with full production of 20 gigawatt-hour (GWh) equivalent of material at the project’s conclusion in 2026.
Sila will build out the factory to full capacity across its 160-acre campus, producing enough materials to power 200,000 electric vehicles (EVs), making Sila’s plant the largest silicon anode production facility in the world.
Automaker Mercedes-Benz will be the first commercial customer served by the Moses Lake facility, as the company has selected Sila’s anode materials to power its electric vehicles, starting with the G-Class series, due to be released mid-decade.
Component Manufacturing (Cathode)
6k, Plasma Low-cost Ultra Sustainable Cathode Active Material (PLUS CAM), $50,000,000. 6K Inc. plans to demonstrate the ability to produce domestically 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 using its patented 6K’s UniMelt microwave plasma processing technology.
The demonstration plant will produce NMC811 generating zero waste and 70% less greenhouse gases by using only 10% of the water and 30% of the energy versus traditional battery material production methods. LFP will also provide environmental benefits while production costs for both materials will be significantly lower than materials sourced from China.
6K will demonstrate the ability to control feedstock sources domestically freeing the US from its current dependence on conflict nations by upcycling recycled materials sourced from end-of- life batteries followed by the digestion of 6K’s own metals.
6K’s UniMelt microwave technology leverages a 6000 Kelvin excited plasma species to create a highly uniform, highly reactive production zone which enables the synthesis of materials at rates far greater than today’s conventional methods. Additionally, the UniMelt’s design flexibility can produce a much broader spectrum of battery chemistries with precise control over particle size and morphology. Finally, UniMelt technology enables a 6K plant to produce an equivalent amount of battery materials while reducing the factory footprint by 50% and lowering capital investments by up to 30% versus conventional methods.
Amprius, Large scale manufacturing of silicon nanowire anode electrodes by direct gas-to- electrode manufacturing, $50,000,000. The objective of this program is to demonstrate the manufacturing of silicon nanowire anode technology at the component and cell level on multi-megawatt-hour (MWh)-scale manufacturing lines that are comparable to those used in multi-gigawatt-hour (GWh) factories.
This demonstration will install and operate the first of its kind large scale production lines for Amprius’ ultra-high-energy-density battery technology and provide a bottom-up analysis of the cost factors of the demonstration line and product performance associated with the factory output.
The current level of battery performance, based on low-volume pilot production, indicates that Amprius will be able to deliver cells using the proprietary anode technology that have a specific energy and energy density that are at least 50% higher, and have lower projected cost than equivalent graphite cells.
Amprius’ silicon anode manufacturing process leverages the global supply chain, with US-based materials input (silane gas) produced at large enough scale to support anode production equivalent to many GWhs of batteries.
ICL-IP Americas, Commercial Production of Lithium Iron Phosphate Cathode Powder for the Global Lithium Battery Industry, $197,338,492. ICL-IP America Inc. intends to build a plant in the US to produce high-quality lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode powder for the global lithium battery industry using primarily a domestic supply chain.
Using its own process technology and by acquiring licenses for certain other commercially proven processes, the plant will have two production lines built in dual phases under a single roof. Each production line will be capable of producing 15,000 tonnes per year of LFP powder.
The plant will be an expansion of its existing facility in St. Louis, MO. Production will start in 33 months. The length of the project will be 60 months, resulting in a commercial and profitable manufacturing operation going forward from completion.
Ascend Elements, Apex – Integrated Sustainable Battery Active Material Production Plant, $164,395,625. 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. The CAM plant will consist of a manufacturing building and the processing equipment necessary to convert precursor materials into CAM, the highest value component in a lithium-ion battery.
Using established and approved processes for building new manufacturing plants, Ascend Elements will design and procure the manufacturing equipment needed based on its operational manufacturing pilot plant in Novi, MI, install the equipment, and bring the CAM plant to full production by the end of the 36- month project period, producing enough material to supply more than 250,000 electric vehicles annually.
Component Manufacturing (Separator)
ENTEK, US Lithium Separator Manufacturing Project, $200,000,000. ENTEK’s project has the largest recipient cost share ($1.2 billion). ENTEK is scaling up its production with the construction of a new US separator plant with capacity of 1-1.8 billion m2> per year, enough material for ~1.4 million electric vehicles.
ENTEK is the only US-based manufacturer of “wet process” separators, preferred by electric vehicle battery producers. ENTEK is also a vertically integrated engineering, project management, and equipment fabrication company with deep experience in separator plant design, construction, and commissioning. ENTEK’s new lithium battery separator plant will include:
Design and installation of high-capacity battery separator lines consistent with cost structure expectations of US lithium battery original equipment manufacturers (OEMs);
Sustainable,state-of-the-art solvent extraction and recovery systems that eliminate the use of methylene chloride or trichloroethylene;
Recycle systems for waste streams consistent with the company’s commitment to sustainability practices; and
Integration of robust ceramic coating intellectual property (IP) for high temperature dimensional stability and safety;
Microvast, Thermally Stable Polyaramid Separator US Manufacturing Plant, $200,000,000. 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, TN.
Microvast’s patented polyaramid separator offers an advanced battery technology that improves safety for electric vehicles and other battery applications. This technology will enable faster charging and longer battery life.
Microvast and General Motors will combine complimentary intellectual properties to create a specialized separator. They intend to use US-sourced raw materials in the proposed facility and equipment manufactured within the US or by US allies.