advanced batteries

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan factory that makes lithium-ion batteries for General Motors is halting production for up to six weeks because of a controversy over a chemical.

LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer says a chemical used to make batteries may not be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He declined to name it.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A lithium-ion battery maker says it’s finally begun production at its plant in West Michigan.

President Obama’s stimulus package invested some $2 billion in advanced battery plants. Back in the summer of 2010, Mr. Obama came to Holland for the ground breaking ceremony for the new LG Chem plant. It was to eventually make lithium ion batteries for the Chevy Volt.

The plant cost roughly $300 million to build. Federal stimulus money paid for half that cost.

A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc. / Facebook

The State of Michigan says the new owner of bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems cannot get the company's state tax credits.

In April, 2009 the state awarded a “high-tech state tax credit” worth a little more than $25 million over 15 years and a “battery cell state tax credit” worth $100 million over four years

China’s Wanxiang Group (specially, one of it's American-based subsidies) bought most of A123 Systems' assets for a little more than $250 million. A123 says those assets include the state tax credits for two battery plants in Romulus and Livonia.

Johnson Controls

Boeing hopes to have a permanent fix for its new Dreamliner jet by the end of the month. All Dreamliners have been grounded since January after reports of the batteries smoking or catching fire.

The news is another bump in the road for lithium ion battery manufacturers, who’ve already had some problems marketing the next generation of batteries.

Lithium ion dominating the market

Lithium ion based batteries are everywhere; your cell phone, laptop or tablet, cordless power tools. But there are several kinds of lithium ion batteries. The ones in the Dreamliner aren’t the same as the ones in consumer electronics.

“We’re in the middle of a horse race and right now lithium ion is far in the lead of that horse race,” Sam Jaffe said. He’s an energy storage analyst with Pike Research.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Community leaders in Holland, Michigan are trying to stay upbeat about the future of the battery industry they’ve worked so hard to attract.

But the past week has been rough for advanced battery maker LG Chem. A U.S. Department of Energy audit reported the company likely wasted more than a million dollars in grant money.

Weak battery market forces layoffs at Midland-based manufacturer

Dec 19, 2012
Argonne National Laboratory / flickr

Dow Kokam, the advanced battery manufacturer, has laid off 40 to 60 employees at its Midland Battery Park and another factory in Missouri.

The company had about 250 U.S. employees, with 95 at its Midland site.

Bill Gagliardi, the company’s director of public affairs and branding told the Midland Daily News that the cuts were necessary to stay competitive in a weak market battery market:

Courtesy photo / The Lakeshore Advantage

This story was updated to correct that the $120 million goes to a a number of partners including two in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

US Senator Carl Levin says the federal government needs to invest in renewable energy companies, even if those investments sometimes go bad. Levin made the remarks during a visit to Grand Rapids Community College today.

.a123systems.com/media-room-photos.htm

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. operations of electric car battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy protection and its automotive assets are being acquired by Johnson Controls for $125 million.

The announcement Tuesday comes one day after A123 warned in a regulatory filing that it likely would miss some debt payments and could be headed for bankruptcy court.

A123, based in Waltham, Mass., got a $249 million U.S. government grant to help it build a battery factory in Michigan.

Michigan lithium-ion battery company is hiring again - after slashing its workforce last year.

A-123 says it plans to hire up to 400 people in the next few months.[A-123 has one factory in Romulus and one in Livonia.   The advanced batteries are used in cars, trucks, and buses, as well as large storage units for the electric power grid.

Jobs at the company peaked at about a thousand, but several hundred jobs were cut last year as orders fell.

Michigan already has the North American International Auto Show.  

This year, the state will also host The Battery Show.  Michigan lured the advanced lithium-ion battery trade show from California. 

Of course, this is a trade show, not a consumer show, so unless you have an unusual interest in lithium-ion chemistries, you might want to stick to the Detroit Auto Show for now. 

Michigansmartcoast.com

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Thursday President Obama heads to Holland, Michigan. Mr. Obama will tour a new plant that will make lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars.

Michigan’s newly-branded “smart coast” welcomes Obama for the second time in 13 months. Last summer he came to the ground breaking of a different battery plant.

Randy Thelan is president of the non-profit, economic development group in the region, The Lakeshore Advantage.

“We are the advanced energy storage capital of all of North America and we see this as a great opportunity going forward.”

Advanced energy storage is a fancy phrase for long-lasting lithium-ion batteries.

Holland BPW

The state is challenging a lower court’s ruling that would’ve allowed Holland to expand a coal-fired power plant. But  its unclear whether or not state officials will follow through on the legal battle.

Charge Point charging station for electric vehicles
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

West Michigan will get 50 free public charging stations through a program funded by the federal stimulus program. The first one in downtown Grand Rapids is now up and running. It’s one of only a handful on the west side of the state. The other two are in Holland and a fourth is set to come online soon in Muskegon.