UpdateUS Dow lithium-ion battery jv to limit oil dependence - Biden

21 June 2010 17:41  [Source: ICIS news]

Biden praises Dow(adds updates throughout)

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The construction of a lithium-ion battery plant by a Dow Chemical joint venture can reduce US dependence on foreign oil and prevent offshore accidents like the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig, US Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday.

“We are mortgaging our children’s futures by burying money in the Middle East and Venezuela and leveraging support and power,” said Biden, who spoke at a groundbreaking ceremony for Dow Kokam’s plant in Midland, Michigan.

“Today, we’re seeing that even domestic production can exact a very high price as well,” Biden added. “Dow’s vision is totally in line with President Obama and me.”

When completed, the plant could make enough large-format lithium-ion batteries to produce 1.2bn watt hours/year, said Dow Kokam.

That much electricity could power 60,000 electric vehicles/year, assuming each has a 20 kW hour system, said Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris.

“We’re putting America that much closer to President Obama’s target of 1m new hybrids on the road by 2015,” Liveris said. “We’re helping our state and our company achieve vitally important clean energy and employment goals.”

The plant would cover 800,000 square feet (74,400 square metres) and employ 800 people, the company said.

The first phase would have a capacity to produce 600m watt hours and employ 320 people, Dow Kokam said.

Dow Kokam is spending $322m (€258m) on the first phase, and a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) would pay for another $161m, the joint venture said.

The state of Michigan also provided $180m in tax incentives.

In total, that represents the single largest investment for electric vehicles ever made, Biden said.

The company would produce prismatic lithium-ion batteries, which Dow Kokam said produce up to three times more energy than nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries typically have three high-cost components that chemical companies could produce.

Those would include a lithium compound used to make the battery’s cathodes, the battery’s electrolyte salt, lithium hexafluoride, and the separator film. The separators are made of commodity plastics.

Plastics producers would also benefit from increased demand resulting from auto makers’ desires to reduce the power requirements on those batteries, sources said.

Dow Kokam was created in 2009 by Dow, TK Advanced Battery and Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault.

TK Advanced Battery is a division of private-equity firm Townsend Capital.

Groupe Industriel is the holding company of the Dassault Group.

($1 = €0.80)

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood

For more on Dow Chemical visit ICIS company intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

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