The United States is hot on building a new industry; Lithium Car Batteries production.With almost every auto manufacturer offering an electric vehicle line up, the need for batteries in on a huge scale increase.Battery manufacturing plants are being built in several states creating what has been dubbed as the “Battery Belt”.From Michigan down to Georgia, battery factories have popped up – bringing with them an influx of cash and jobs. Employment in states with little industry prior to the EV movement is now blossoming. Current employment figures for the US EV battery industry is estimated to be 70,000, with workers based in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Ironically, the states that have seen an economic boost from the EV battery plants have been politically conservative states which have opposed climate legislation. However, no one is denying the 90 million dollar investment that has been made by companies like the South Korean SK On, part of conglomerate SK Group built a gigantic plant in Commerce, Georgia the size of 13 football fields to produce EV batteries.
The move to manufacture EV batteries in the US, providing a local source for the EV power train is a good one.It not only brings jobs to areas hard hit by the loss of production plants and other facilities in that part of the country but also saves US car makers a bundle not having to ship the heavy EV batteries from China or Korea.The average weight of an EV battery is between 1,000 and 1,700 pounds.
Large EV battery recycling plants are coming online as well.Their aim is to extract metals like nickel, cobalt and lithium, reduce reliance on mining and create high value engineering material from the recycled batteries.The leader, Ascend Elements started out in Worchster, MA and has a recycling plant in Covington, Georgia which increased employment by 200% in 2022.Ascend Elements received two grants totaling $480 million grant from the US Department of Energy in late 2022 and have plans to build a $65 million, 100,000 square foot lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Partnering with SK Ecoplant and their recycling subsidiary TES, the goal is to start with a mixed stream of spent lithium ion batteries and end with a production of finished battery ready cathode active material. The Hopkinsville facility hopes to disassemble and shred approximately 56,000 batteries a year and has landed a deal to supply cathode active material for EV batteries to Honda America.
As these new plants and facilities spring up, opening employment options in towns with little opportunity some are supplying car manufacturers with a local source for EV batteries, others returning 100% of battery active material back into the production of new batteries and creating a closed loop battery economy.The future’s bright and looking toward the clean energy revolution.