Orion S.A. breaks ground on battery materials plant in Texas

By: William Foreman
| Published 04/09/2024

Sandra Niemien, Orion Managing Director, Senior VP - Global Specialty EMEA Kim Foley, LyondellBasell Executive Vice President of Global Olefins and Polyolefins, Refining and Supply Chain Corby Alexander, La Porte City Manager Corning Painter, Orion CEO

HOUSTON, TX -- Orion S.A. (NYSE: OEC), a global specialty chemicals company, on Tuesday broke ground on a plant in Texas that will be the only facility in the U.S. producing acetylene-based conductive additives for lithium-ion batteries and other applications vital for the global shift to electrification.

The site in the city of La Porte, southeast of Houston, will create many high-skilled jobs – both in construction and technical fields – and bring innovative technology to the American economy. The battery additives produced by Orion’s plant will be super clean, with only one-tenth of the carbon footprint of other commonly used materials.

“Orion is already the sole producer of acetylene-based conductive additives in Europe,” Orion CEO Corning Painter said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Our plant in La Porte will be a pivotal step toward strengthening the regional supply of conductive additives in the rapidly growing U.S. battery market.”

Every battery requires conductive additives. They enable a more efficient flow of electricity and extend the lifetime of lithium-ion batteries – the most valuable components of electric vehicles. The material also plays an essential role in high-voltage cables used for wind and solar farms.

The additives produced at the La Porte plant will be made from acetylene, a colorless gas that Orion’s production process turns into powder with exceptional purity demanded by leading battery manufacturers. The acetylene will be supplied by a neighboring site owned by Equistar Chemicals LP, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell.

At Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Kim Foley, LyondellBasell executive vice president of Global Olefins and Polyolefins, Refining and Supply Chain, said “At LYB, we see electrification as a crucial part of our plan to reduce carbon emissions across our industries. By supporting the production of key battery components, we're contributing to solutions for a better tomorrow.”
Orion’s plant in La Porte is similar to one the company has in the city of Berre-l'Étang in southern France. The facility also uses acetylene from LyondellBasell.

With the LaPorte project, key equipment procurement and off-site fabrication are already at an advanced stage. Field construction activities are ramping up, with the facility start-up expected in the second quarter of 2025.

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