Facility to manufacture only acetylene-based additives to meet demand driven by electrification trends
Houston, Texas - Orion Engineered Carbons has disclosed plans to build an acetylene-based conductive additives production plant in the US to support the growing electrification and sustainability trends.
The company has earmarked $120-$140 million (€114-€133 million) for the 12-kilotonne-per-annum facility in La Porte, Texas, and expects start up in the second half of 2024, Orion announced 5 May.
The plant, said Orion, will be backed by a long-term agreement for acetylene supplied from a neighbouring site owned by Equistar Chemicals LP, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell.
According to the chemicals supplier, acetylene-based conductive additives play as “a critical link” in the value chain for lithium-ion batteries, high-voltage cables and other electrification products.
Acetylene black is used in tire bladder compounds, according to Orion.
Acetylene is a colourless gas widely used as a chemical building block.
Orion’s production process turns acetylene into a powder, which is added to lithium-ion batteries, enhancing electrical conductivity and extending the lifetime of electric vehicles' components.
The material plays a similar role in high-voltage cables used for wind and solar farms.
“With this investment, we will quadruple our effective manufacturing capacity of acetylene-based conductive additives,” said CEO Corning Painter.
“We are already experiencing high demand for this material, so expanding capacity for it is one of our top investment priorities,” he added.
Orion has a similar plant in France with locally supplied acetylene gas from LyondellBasell.
The French facility is claimed to be the “the sole producer” of acetylene-based conductive additives in the EU.
According to Orion demand for battery additives is expected to grow rapidly amid a global boom in the construction of gigafactories making lithium-ion batteries.