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From: Eric4/23/2024 3:15:49 PM
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NSW battery materials company plans U.S. manufacturing plant

Australian battery materials technology company Sicona has confirmed it will develop its first commercial manufacturing facility in the United States as part of its ambition to become the biggest producer of silicon-carbon battery materials in the world.

April 23, 2024 David Carroll

Image: Sicona Battery Technologies


Wollongong-based Sicona Battery Technologies, which is developing a silicon composite material that improves the performance of batteries used for electric vehicles (EVs) and energy grids, announced it is moving forward with the development of a production plant in the southeast of the United States to take advantage of the booming battery and EV market.

It is anticipated the U.S. plant, the exact location of which is yet to be revealed, will initially be capable of producing about 6,700 tonnes per annum (tpa) of silicon-carbon anode material, before scaling up to a total output of 26,500 tpa by the early 2030s.

“Sicona’s vision is to be the largest silicon-carbon battery materials producer in the world and today’s announcement is the first major step towards the realisation of that goal,” Sicona co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Minnet said.

“We believe by going mass scale with our technology we can have maximum impact on increasing the adoption of electric vehicles. This is because our product has a real impact on the charge time of an electric vehicle or how far you can drive your EV before recharging, which are two major factors holding people back from buying an EV.”

Sicona, which has its headquarters and a pilot plant in Wollongong on the New South Wales coast, said its current generation silicon-graphite composite anode materials “supercharge” lithium-ion batteries, delivering a 20%-plus increase in energy density over conventional graphite-only battery cells and reducing charge times by more than 40%.

The Australian company said establishing a commercial-scale advanced manufacturing plant in the U.S. will enable it to serve customers in that market with Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) compliant materials supply. It is anticipated demand for anode materials in the U.S market will exceed 1,200 GWh by 2030.

Sicona said it has already started supplying product samples and begun offtake discussions with potential customers in the U.S. with qualification activities expected to ramp up significantly in the coming 18 months.

Sicona co-founders Dr Andrew Minnet and Christiaan JordaanImage: Sicona

The exact location of the planned new manufacturing facility has not yet been revealed but Sicona said it will be sited in the nation’s southeast “near the geographic heart of the growing U.S. battery and EV manufacturing hub.”

The company said engineering and construction firm Bechtel has completed a front-end engineering design study and it will now push ahead with the phased development of the production plant.

Sicona’s announcement comes on the same day that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) called for feedback on the design of the federal government’s $1 billion Solar Sunshot domestic manufacturing program.

The IRA-style initiative will see the government funding production subsidies and grants to boost the development of Australia’s solar manufacturing industry and increase the nation’s role in the global solar manufacturing supply chain.
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