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Orion Highlights Li-ion, Lead-acid Additives—and Coming US Plant

Image courtesy of Orion Engineered Carbons Orion Plant in Berre-l'Etang, France
This Orion plant in Berre-l’Etang, France, produces acetylene-based conductive additives. A new plant is slated to be up and running in LaPorte, Texas, by 2024.
The first domestic acetylene conductive additives plant will be running by 2024; those additives benefit both lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

At The Battery Show 2022, global specialty chemicals company Orion Engineered Carbons highlighted the benefits of its acetylene-based conductive additives plant, which is being developed in Texas, as well as showcasing its high-performance acetylene-based conductive additive, PRINTEX kappa 100 for lithium-ion batteries and its conductive PRINTEX kappa grades 210, 220, and 240 for advanced lead-acid batteries.

Orion first announced in May it will build the only plant in the U.S. producing acetylene-based conductive additives—a critical link in the value chain for lithium-ion batteries, high-voltage cables and other products powering the global transition to electrification and renewable energy.

Acetylene is a colorless 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 the most valuable component of an electric vehicle. The material plays a similar role in high-voltage cables used for wind and solar farms.

Plant Details

Orion’s planned facility in La Porte, Texas, south of Houston, will be backed by a long-term agreement for acetylene supplied from a neighboring site owned by Equistar Chemicals LP, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell.

Orion will invest between $120 million and $140 million in the facility, expected to start up in the second half of 2024. The investment should increase the company’s conductive additives capacity by approximately 12 kilotons per year.

The U.S. plant will bring new technology and high-skilled jobs to the country and positively impact long-term job creation for the local community. Demand for battery additives is expected to grow rapidly amid a global boom in the construction of gigafactories making lithium-ion batteries.

“We’re ramping up the supply of conductive additives to match the increasing demand from the EV market for lithium-ion batteries,” stated Jennifer S. Stroh, director of specialties sales and marketing Americas. “For the first time, the North American battery market will have domestic availability of shipments and a consistent supply.”

Improving Conductivity in Lithium-ion Batteries

The company will also highlight its range of acetylene based conductive additives that benefit, respectively, lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

The company’s PRINTEX kappa 100 grade offers conductive functionalities that improve lithium-ion battery performance. The high-performance acetylene-based conductive additive features exceptional purity and imparts high electrical and thermal conductivity, leading to significantly higher power densities and longer battery life than with other carbon blacks. PRINTEX kappa 100 forms an excellent percolation network across the cathode surface for effective charging and discharging. It is extremely dispersible, for easier formulation, and highly hydrophobic for a better battery lifecycle.

In addition, Orion’s acetylene black production generates a high yield. As a result, PRINTEX kappa 100 has a remarkably low carbon footprint and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing DCA in Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries

The PRINTEX kappa 210, 220 and 240 grades increase the dynamic charge acceptance (DCA) of advanced lead-acid batteries by up to 60% while maintaining acceptable water loss. They have very low metallic impurities, which results in extended battery cycle life. The modified surface of these grades maintain conductivity and surface area while suppressing the hydrogen evolution reaction, lowering water loss to acceptable levels. As a result, battery manufacturers can use higher loading to achieve higher charge acceptance.

For more information about OEC’s sustainability performance and initiatives, visit Orion Engineered Carbons - Sustainability - Sustainability Roadmap (orioncarbons.com).

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