ENDICOTT, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Now that lithium-ion batteries have begun rolling off the assembly line in Endicott, manufacturer iM3NY is looking for a federal loan to significantly upscale its production capacity.
iM3NY uses battery technology developed by C4V founder Shailesh Upreti under the mentorship of Binghamton University Chemistry Professor and inventor of the lithium-ion battery Stan Whittingham.
The operation began producing batteries last year inside a former IBM facility on the Huron Campus.
The gigafactory is currently creating enough batteries to produce 1.8 gigawatts of energy storage per year.
It has submitted an application to the US Department of Energy for a $700 million loan toward building a new facility that would be 12 times larger than its current space.
The loan is being championed by US Senator Chuck Schumer who also helped BU win $34 million from the federal government’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge to support the lithium-ion battery ecosystem.
Schumer says, “Binghamton and Upstate New York are already being super-charged by the $100 million I was able to deliver for Binghamton University’s New Energy New York battery hub. That’s doing the research but to get the manufacturing is the next step. And they’ll work with the researchers of course to perfect the product.”
The batteries, which are still undergoing product certification, are intended initially for use in larger commercial vehicles and home energy storage.
As iM3 develops those markets, Upreti says the company will consider expanding into passenger EV’s and larger scale energy storage usage for offshore wind or large solar arrays.
C4V, which continues the research and development, currently employs 45 people while iM3’s manufacturing process has over 70 workers.
The new gigafactory, which would produce up to 38 gigawatt hours, could employ between 2,500 and 3,000 workers.
Chairman Shailesh Upreti says, “We do want to invite our vendors to co-locate or to the close proximity. The impact of that, the supply chain job creation and the ripple effect of all those jobs, we anticipate that the overall impact would be as much as 8,000 direct plus indirect jobs.”
Upreti says New Energy New York will play a vital role in helping to recruit and train potential workers.
The new 2 million square foot gigafactory would be built in the portion of the Huron Campus at the northeast corner of North and McKinley where property owner Phoenix Investors plans to demolish dilapidated IBM factory buildings.
Upreti says the goal is to line up all of the financing this year, break ground next year and start operations in 2025.
Chief Financial Officer Mayank Sharma says the overall cost is roughly $1.2 billion with the remaining funding coming from banks and private equity investors.
Sharma says with credits for brining hi-tech manufacturing back to the US and the increased demand for battery storage, the time is ripe for expansion.
“Being in an industry where the product is in high demand but short in supply, we are in conversations with different customers for well over $2 billion in potential orders.”
Upreti says that once the new gigafactory is built, the existing smaller one would be converted into a Giga Lab, where new processes and advancements could be tested.