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Entek Secures $1.2B Loan for Indiana EV Battery Separator Film Plant

The conditional loan from the US Department of Energy supports construction of a facility with capacity to produce 1.72 billion square meters of separator material by 2025.

Stephen Moore

July 10, 2024

3 Min Read
see-through EV showing battery
Just_Super/iStock via Getty Images

At a Glance

  • Project strengthens and onshores lithium-ion battery cell supply chain.
  • Entek will be able to customize battery separators to accommodate numerous EV battery designs.
  • Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) powder a key material in fabrication of battery separators.

Entek, the sole US-owned and based producer of “wet-process” lithium-ion battery separator film (BSF), has received a conditional commitment of up to $1.2 billion for a direct loan to Entek Lithium Separators LLC from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO). The loan will finance a new facility in Terre Haute, IN, to manufacture lithium-ion battery separators to be used primarily in electric vehicles (EVs). This project will strengthen and onshore the lithium-ion battery cell supply chain, enabling the creation of batteries used in advanced technology vehicles for EV propulsion.

This project supports the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to expand and secure reliable, environmentally sustainable clean energy domestic supply chains. This is key to reaching the country’s ambitious climate goals while reducing reliance on economic competitors like China, said the news release. DOE estimates that by 2030 the North American lithium-ion EV battery industry will require annual separator production of 7 to 10 billion square meters.

Supporting production of up to 1.9 million mid-size EVs.

Once complete, the facility is expected to have the capacity to manufacture 1.72 billion square meters of separator material annually for the North American EV market. Based on the LPO technical team’s analysis, the number of EVs supported by this project depends upon the battery form factor — cylindrical, pouch, or prismatic — used for various battery chemistries. Each GWh of cell manufacturing requires 7 to 10 million square meters of battery separators, depending on the battery form factor. Based on current form factors chosen by cell manufacturers, the project will support roughly 1.9 million mid-size EVs or 1.3 million eSUVs.

Related:GM Achieves Record EV Sales in Q2 2024, Signaling Strong Growth in the Electric Vehicle Market

The project will make a significant contribution to growth in domestic battery separator capacity and help US EV manufacturers satisfy battery component sourcing requirements under the 30D Clean Vehicle Credit. The tax credit, included in the US president's Inflation Reduction Act, offers up to $7,500 for the purchase of new clean vehicles. 

Entek will be able to customize battery separators to accommodate numerous EV battery designs. The separators produced will be able to accommodate all existing lithium-ion EV battery chemistries, including NMC, NCA, LMFP, and LFP. Additionally, Entek will be able to sell its separators to manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries for energy storage applications. 

UHMWPE stretched.

A battery separator is a microporous membrane sandwiched between the anode and cathode of a battery. Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) powder is one of the key materials employed, with biaxial stretching of an extruded film comprising the polymer and a paraffin oil used to form the microporous structure. Machinery suppliers include Brückner, with whom Entek inked a deal in March 2023 for the delivery of 18 production lines.

The current project reinforces President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to onshore and reshore domestic manufacturing technologies that are critical to meeting the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious goal that half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 are zero-emission vehicles. The announcement also supports the president’s comprehensive strategy to build a safer, more sustainable transportation system and slash all greenhouse emissions from the transportation sector by 2050.

Domestic EV manufacturing has surged in response to the massive growth in the domestic and global EV markets and the financial incentives recently made available under the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

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