In another edition of "A Brighter Future," we bring you the story of a lithium facility in Kings Mountain, NC that is bringing 100 new jobs to the community. Stories like these set a great precedent for the future.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recognized the opening of Rockwood Lithium’s expanded manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain, NC. Rockwood is leveraging a $28.4 million investment from the Recovery Act to expand its NC lithium production facility as well as its production operations in Silver Peak, NV. This project will create 100 new jobs and dramatically increase the United States’ capacity to produce lithium, which is a key material in a number of growing industries, including advanced vehicle batteries and consumer electronics.
“The Kings Mountain facility expansion exemplifies American manufacturing leadership and technical expertise in clean energy technologies – helping to strengthen our nation’s energy security and create new jobs,” says Secretary Chu. “With support from the Energy Department, this project will make America more competitive in a range of new technologies and will help ensure the United States leads once again in manufacturing the next generation of clean energy and advanced vehicle technologies.”
As the market for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other advanced clean energy technologies grows worldwide, rare earth elements and other critical materials, including lithium, are facing increasing global demand. The Kings Mountain and Silver Peak plants will produce lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, which are both used to produce lithium-ion batteries, dramatically increasing U.S. domestic production of raw and processed lithium materials.
"The expansion of Rockwood will not only allow the company to upgrade the production of lithium materials but it will put talented scientists, engineers, and production personnel to work here in North Carolina. Thanks in part to a Department of Energy grant, this expansion puts Rockwood and the state of North Carolina at the forefront of advanced battery technology. This is an investment in a clean energy future that I will continue to urge my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to support," says U.S. Senator Kay Hagan.
As more clean energy technologies are manufactured and sold around the world, the demand for critical materials has grown substantially, outpacing the demand for major metals such as steel. Between 1980 and 2009, the demand for lithium has tripled. After holding world leadership in lithium production in the early 1990s, the U.S. now imports the majority of its lithium materials and compounds from South America.
Lithium-ion batteries are a key component in electric vehicles and other rechargeable batteries for consumer electronics, and are used in the production of plug-in electric vehicles on the market today. These batteries can also have a major impact on energy storage infrastructure, helping to integrate renewable energy sources into the electricity grid.
View a related story here