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October 19, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Three Tennessee EV battery-focused projects capture more than $590 million in DOE awards

Talk about big bucks!

Two Tennessee projects along the I-75 corridor will receive more than $390 million as part of $2.8 billion in funding announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). And, a third project in Clarksville adds another $200 million to the total awarded to projects in the Volunteer State. Collectively, those three awards represent more than 20 percent of the total funding announced by DOE for projects across 12 states.

The 20 awards are the first set of projects funded by the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” that are designed to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and the electrical grid and for materials and components currently imported from other countries. The funding is designed to help the companies build and expand commercial-scale facilities to extract and process lithium, graphite and other battery materials, manufacture components, and demonstrate new approaches, including manufacturing components from recycled materials.

Two of the projects are located in Chattanooga and McMinn County.

  • NOVONIX Anode Materials LLC (NAM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NOVONIX Limited that was formed in 2017, was awarded $150 million which will leverage non-federal cost share of $877,260,704 to build a new plant in Chattanooga to produce 30,000 metric tons per year of graphite targeted at the electric vehicle industry. The company has developed significant process technology and experience in producing lower carbon intensity, high performance, synthetic graphite targeting the electric vehicle and energy storage sectors. Currently, NAM is building its first mass production site in the United States, which will produce 10,000 metric tons per year of battery grade synthetic graphite.
  • Piedmont Lithium, a leading global developer of lithium resources for the U.S. electric vehicle industry, has been awarded $141,680,442 and will cost share a total of $430,356,259 for a facility to be built by subsidiary Tennessee Lithium in McMinn County. That plant will 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.

In Clarksville, Microvast will build a separator facility capable of supplying 19 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of EV batteries, including the company’s existing 2 GWh battery plant in Clarksville. The separator is an essential component of all traditional, advanced, and next-gen Li-ion batteries and a key
component in need of advancing to improve EV batteries.

According to the DOE announcement, funding for the selected projects will support:

  • Developing enough battery-grade lithium to supply approximately 2 million EVs annually;
  • Developing enough battery-grade graphite to supply approximately 1.2 million EVs annually;
  • Producing enough battery-grade nickel to supply approximately 400,000 EVs annually;
  • Installing the first large-scale, commercial lithium electrolyte salt production facility in the U.S.;
  • Developing an electrode binder facility capable of supplying 45 percent of the anticipated domestic demand for binders for EV batteries in 2030;
  • Creating the first commercial scale domestic silicon oxide production facilities to supply anode materials for an estimated 600,000 EV batteries annually; and
  • Installing the first lithium iron phosphate cathode facility in the country.

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