Tuesday, April 23, 2024

LED: Japanese Chemical Giant UBE Injects $500 Million into Louisiana for EV Battery Plant

by BIZ Magazine

In a significant move to fortify the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, Japanese chemical company UBE Corporation unveiled plans to invest a whopping $500 million in establishing the first U.S. manufacturing facility for crucial EV Lithium Ion Battery (LiB) ingredients, dimethyl carbonate (DMC), and ethyl methyl carbonate (EMC). The groundbreaking project, aimed at reducing the heavy reliance on Chinese imports and boosting the domestic battery components supply chain, will find its home at Cornerstone Energy Park (CEP) in Jefferson Parish.

The initiative, spearheaded by a newly formed entity called UBE C1 Chemicals America, Inc. (UCCA), is poised to generate nine direct new jobs for UCCA and 47 direct new jobs for Cornerstone Chemical Company, LLC, to support UBE’s operations transitioning to UCCA over time. Additionally, the project anticipates providing employment to approximately 300 construction workers at the peak of construction.

“This $500 million investment reinforces Louisiana’s leadership in the electric vehicle battery components supply chain, and is another win for southeast Louisiana’s manufacturing workforce, which is second to none,” asserted LED Secretary Susan Bonnett Bourgeois. “This decision by UBE Corporation is a vote of confidence from the global marketplace in Louisiana’s strategic location, rich natural resources, and skilled workers.”

DMC and EMC play pivotal roles in producing the electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries, contributing to prolonged battery life and enhanced driving range for electric vehicles. Furthermore, DMC serves as a critical component in certain semiconductor manufacturing processes.

UBE President and Representative Director Masato Izumihara underscored the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability, stating, “UBE’s proprietary nitrite process, which we have been developing since the 1970s, enables us to realize a very limited environmental impact and much fewer by-products compared to other existing plants and processes, particularly in mainland China.”

The manufacturing facility, UBE’s maiden large-scale chemical facility in the United States, will boast a robust production capacity of 100,000 metric tons of DMC annually and 40,000 metric tons of EMC derived from DMC. Construction is slated to commence before the year-end, subject to necessary permit approvals, with completion expected by mid-2026 and operations set to kick off by late 2026.

To clinch the deal, the state of Louisiana offered an attractive incentives package, including LED FastStart, renowned for its comprehensive workforce development solutions. UBE is also poised to participate in Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.

JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna emphasized the project’s alignment with JEDCO’s objectives to foster quality job creation and investment within the environmental and engineering industry. “UBE’s investment in our community signals that Jefferson Parish can be a key player in this global industry,” Bologna remarked.

Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., hailed UBE’s arrival as a monumental development for Jefferson Parish and the broader Louisiana landscape. “UBE’s new facility furthers Louisiana’s emergence as a leading location for future energy projects by establishing the first electric vehicle battery supply chain project in the Southeast Region,” Hecht affirmed. “UBE’s operations will also bolster national security efforts by serving as the only U.S. site to provide these critical elements of the country’s energy supply chain.”

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