As U.S. manufacturers look to establish more stateside suppliers and automakers seek new sources for electrification materials, a new factory in Tennessee looks to meet both needs. Battery production startup Novonix Ltd. announced it recently began building new factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which will produce materials for EV batteries.
Local news source ABC 9 of Chattanooga reported that Novonix’s CEO, Chris Burns, said the company will help source anode material for Volkswagen EV batteries.
The new site will help “lessen U.S. dependence” on other countries for high-tech materials, Burns said in a November 22 statement.
According to the startup, once production at the plant begins in 2022 it will be the only manufacturer in the United States of synthetic graphite qualified with a top-tier battery cell manufacturer. Synthetic graphite is a key material for the anode, or negative terminal, of modern-day lithium-ion batteries, including those used in electric vehicles as well as cell phones.
The new factory will take over in the same space as a former General Electric Co. nuclear-turbine plant by the banks of the Tennessee River. According to Novonix, the plant will employ 290 once the $20 million refurbishment is finished. It will produce 10,000 tons of synthetic graphite anode material the year after it opens and 40,000 tons a year by the middle of the decade.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm attended an event commemorating the announced factory November 22. In a statement, she said the factory is relevant to the future of American manufacturing. “The fact that we’re at a facility that once employed about 230 people and that now is going to employ 300 people, making the future of our transportation energy system secure, is such a great day for America,” she said.