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Lead Intelligent Equipment partners with battery manufacturer on new facility

April 17, 2024
The machine builder will help American Battery Factory automate a gigafactory for lithium iron phosphate battery cells

Battery manufacturer American Battery Factory Inc. (ABF) is partnering with machine builder Lead Intelligent Equipment (LEAD) to secure custom automation equipment and machinery for a new facility. A network of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cell gigafactories in Tucson, Arizona are now at the engineering and production design phase.

Produced by LEAD in close collaboration with ABF, the fully automated production line will perform mixing and coating to stacking and packaging. The machinery includes the slurry system, cathode and anode laser chamber and turnkey line equipment, which ABF says will cover every key step of the battery cell manufacturing process. In addition to the machinery, LEAD will initially provide on-site support including system installation, commissioning and training.

ABF hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in October 2023, initiating plans to produce battery cells for numerous applications. The manufacturer said it plans to optimize energy storage, destress the power grid and make true energy independence a reality. 

“Our collaboration with LEAD allows us to secure world-leading intelligent equipment, a significant milestone as we advance toward construction in the coming months,” said Jim Ge, CEO of American Battery Factory. “This brings us one step closer to our primary goal of onshoring a domestic supply chain and accelerating the growth of the country’s clean energy economy. In addition to ensuring a high-quality first production line, this lays the foundation for future phases at our facility while demonstrating a long-term, strategic relationship that will benefit our gigafactory network for years to come.”

In conjunction with this manufacturing equipment decision, ABF is working with U.S.-based companies to secure additional equipment, building controls, software, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), cyber systems, construction and more. The company has previously announced partnerships with Honeywell, First Phosphate, Anovion, Celgard, FNA Group and Lion Energy to provide an array of solutions including digital platforms, lithium sourcing, anode and separator materials, and battery pack integration.

“Accelerating global layout has long been a core strategic goal for LEAD and collaborating with ABF is a key step for our expansion into U.S. and North American markets,” said Wang Yanqing, LEAD chairman. “We will jointly build an automated, efficient and intelligent gigafactory network, contributing to the growth of local lithium battery and energy storage industry in the United States.”

Due to the size of the machinery, ABF says that decisions in the planning phase have considered the impact on everything from electrical to plumbing and the related geotechnical considerations, which then impact the necessary size of the foundation. With a targeted completion in 2025, the first ABF gigafactory will include the company’s headquarters, a research and development innovation center, as well as the initial 2 x 2 GWh factory module. 

“In order to be fully cost competitive, we need a leading edge, fully automated process, and through our collaboration with LEAD we can achieve this,” said John Kem, president of American Battery Factory. “This is truly essential in our drive to utilize precision scanning and artificial intelligence to enable next-generation, smart manufacturing in Pima County, Arizona. By developing a domestic LFP battery cell supply chain, we will improve U.S. economic competitiveness, create high-paying quality jobs and help meet national security and sustainability goals.”

ABF plans to supply the demand for U.S.-made LFP battery cells deployed by battery pack integrators and energy storage solution providers across a range of markets including utilities, data centers, telecommunications, commercial/agricultural equipment, power tools, specialized markets and national defense requirements.

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