Texas-based battery manufacturer Microvast Holdings plans to open its first polyaramid separator facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, with an investment of $504 million.
According to the company, the plant is intended to be the world’s first mass production facility for its polyaramid separator technology, which offers significant advantages compared to other polyethylene and polypropylene separator technology available today.
Polyaramid is a high-temperature resistant, fire-retardant aromatic polyamide, which is commonly used in firefighting garments and insulating papers. Microvast says its patented polyaramid separator is capable of resisting temperatures in excess of 300°C, making it ideal for use in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
“This material took over 10 years to develop internally,” said Yang Wu, Founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Microvast. “We are pleased to expand our manufacturing footprint into Kentucky as it continues to position itself as a leader in EV manufacturing and are eager to work closely with the local community as we begin construction.”
A separator is an insulating film between the cathode and anode in batteries. It offers prevention of thermal runway (to reduce fire risk) while still allowing ion transfer. Microvast is making battery technology for electric vehicles, stationary battery storage markets and other applications.
Located on a 100-acre site in Commerce Park II in Hopkins, the project is expected to create up to 562 new full-time jobs. Construction is expected to commence in 2023, with completion anticipated in 2025. The campus will include a collaboration with General Motors.
The project will be funded in part by a $200 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law aimed at developing a North American-focused electric vehicle supply chain.
Upon completion, the plant is expected to have a capacity of 300 million square meters per year, or about 19 GWh. It will provide components for Microvast's existing battery cell plant in Clarksville, Tenn., near Nashville.
“We expect the safety advantages of our innovative, highly thermally stable polyaramid separators to transform high-energy lithium-ion battery development and drive significant value for the industry,” said Wenjuan Mattis, Chief Technology Officer at Microvast.