HOUSTON – Specialty chemicals company Orion Engineered Carbons announced plans to build a plant in the United States that will produce acetylene-based conductive additives — a critical link in the value chain for lithium-ion batteries, high-voltage cables and other products powering the global transition to electrification and renewable energy. The company reports that it will be the only plant in the United States to produce acetylene-based conductive additives.

Orion’s planned facility in La Porte, Texas, south of Houston, will be backed by a long-term agreement for acetylene supplied from a neighboring site owned by Equistar Chemicals LP, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell.

Acetylene is a colorless gas widely used as a chemical building block. Orion’s production process turns acetylene into a powder, which is added to lithium-ion batteries, enhancing electrical conductivity and extending the lifetime of the most valuable component of an electric vehicle. The material plays a similar role in high-voltage cables used for wind and solar farms.

Orion will invest between $120 million and $140 million in the facility, expected to start up in the second half of 2024. This investment should increase the company’s conductive additives capacity by approximately 12 kilotons per year.

“With this investment, we will quadruple our effective manufacturing capacity of acetylene-based conductive additives,” said Corning Painter, Orion’s CEO. “We are already experiencing high demand for this material, so expanding capacity for it is one of our top investment priorities and a major milestone in our growth plans. This is a very big day for Orion.”

The company, which has a similar plant in France with locally supplied acetylene gas from LyondellBasell, is reportedly the sole producer of acetylene-based conductive additives in the European Union.

 “Batteries will continue to play an increasingly vital role in the world’s shift toward clean energy,” Painter said. “By being a key supplier of materials to the battery industry, we’re living up to our mission of delivering solutions for a more sustainable future.”  

Visit www.orioncarbons.com to learn more.