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US Department of Energy Awards 6K Energy $50M for Construction of Battery Material Plant

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6K Energy, the sibling company of 6K Additive, has been awarded $50 million from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains. The funds will go towards the construction costs of 6K Energy’s PlusCAM battery material production plant, in Jackson, Tennessee.

6K Energy claims that its UniMelt technology produces both nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) and lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) at cheaper costs than what is typical from China-based suppliers. The NMC and LFP the company will supply are used to make cathodes in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The dominance of the EV battery market by China — it’s responsible for well over half of EV battery production and outpaces US production almost fourfold — has been one of the most critical factors driving the Biden administration’s focus on reshoring of US manufacturing. The funds awarded to 6K here, for instance, were made possible via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

In a press release about the DOE’s award of $50 million to 6K Energy, Sam Trinch, president of 6K Energy, said, “The national concern is focused on onshoring battery cells, but it’s severely misguided. The most critical item needed to break our reliance on China is CAM [Cathode Active Material]. No other production technology, other than UniMelt plasma, is capable of producing CAM with acceptable ESG levels at costs lower than Asia. We are negotiating offtake agreements to commit our PlusCAM capacity, and the $50M grant helps us reach full-scale production beginning in late 2024 to meet our customer’s CAM supply requirements.”

Rob Davis, 6K Energy’s COO, said, “For our PlusCAM facility, we are committed to hiring 40% of our workforce from either disadvantaged, veteran, disabled, or diverse communities, which aligns well with the spirit of the [BIL] and the Justice 40 Initiative. The $50M grant will be used for construction of the facility and workforce development to ensure our employees have the safest work environment, high-value training programs, and a positive working experience across the board in our Jackson, TN facility.”

The news comes about a week after DoD awarded 6K Additive $23.4 million to use UniMelt to upcycle scrap into metal additive manufacturing (AM) powders. 6K Additive plans to use those funds to bring its Pennsylvania operations up to full capacity by the end of 2026, two years after 6K Energy’s Tennessee facility is expected to reach full production.

6K Energy is one of 11 investments that Stellantis Ventures, the venture capital arm of the EV manufacturer, announced in June 2023. The other investments are in companies involved in applications ranging from AI software platforms for vehicle analytics, to production of 3D graphene.

6K, then, is embedded into a diverse portfolio of Industry4.0 technologies. Considering that all of those technologies both depend on and contribute to the output of goods produced via advanced manufacturing techniques, it is reasonable to expect that 6K Energy and 6K Additive will attempt to cross-leverage the different markets they’re exposed to as much as possible.

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