Project: Ascend Elements’ Apex 1 EV battery recycling plant
Location: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Cost: Approximately $1 billion
Turner Construction, Kokosing Industrial and SSOE Group landed a $1 billion design-build contract to construct an electric vehicle battery recycling facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the companies announced in a press release. SSOE will handle the design, while Turner and Kokosing will lead the build.
Turner is also teaming with Westerville, Ohio-based Kokosing Industrial on a $4.4 billion Honda EV battery factory in Ohio.
Westborough, Massachusetts-based EV battery material recycler Ascend Elements is building the 500,000 square foot plant, dubbed Apex 1, which will produce enough EV battery material annually to power more than 250,000 electric vehicles and spur 400 full-time jobs.
“With clearing and grading permitting in place, the Turner / Kokosing team will be able to begin grading the 140-acre site this month while the SSOE team continues the detailed design of the process,” said Mathew Bierschbach, SSOE business leader who is serving as project manager. “This ‘design-assist’ involvement of the construction trades during design helps clients like Ascend save on both cost and schedule.”
The facility will help meet North America’s growing demand for lithium-ion battery materials, specifically the building blocks of EV batteries such as engineered precursor and battery-ready cathode active materials.
Ascend claims that the way it harvests those materials from previously used batteries, a sequence it calls its “Hydro-to-Cathode” direct precursor synthesis process, is the most efficient way to return recycled battery materials to the supply chain.
“Today, we’ve begun building something that doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States — a domestic source of sustainable lithium-ion cathode material for EV batteries,” said Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements, in his company’s press release on the build. “We’re in the middle of a global energy transformation and it’s critical that we produce lithium-ion battery material in the United States.”
Heralded as the single-largest battery manufacturing investment in Kentucky and largest facility of its kind in the U.S., Apex 1 received two federal grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing Initiative, totaling $480 million, according to an SSOE press release. Ascend said it plans to invest close to $1 billion in the plant.
EV-related construction on the rise
EV plant construction has been heating up across the country. The sector has been pegged as one of the most recession-proof in the construction industry, especially off the back of the passage of the $52 billion CHIPS Act and EV tax credit included in the $485 billion Inflation Reduction Act.
At the same time, manufacturing projects, including EV battery plants, remain in high demand in the U.S. as more companies look to take advantage of the onshoring trend.
Dodge Construction Network expects manufacturing starts to hit $51 billion in 2023, largely because funding from the CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act will support high levels of activity in the sector.
Last week, LG Chem, the Seoul, South Korea-based chemical company, announced its own plans to invest $3 billion for an EV battery manufacturing facility project in Clarksville, Tennessee.