Smart Factory Institute’s Global EV Battery Innovations Conference focuses on future of electric mobility and sustainable transportation
CHATTANOOGA – The Smart Factory Institute of Tennessee hosted the 2022 Global Electric Vehicle Battery Innovations Conference yesterday, presented by EPB. The event, held at the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Administration Building in Chattanooga, featured executives from global electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and battery manufacturers, as well as transportation and energy officials from across Tennessee.
EV battery demand is expected to quadruple by 2025, increasing the strain on the supply chain. One forecast suggests that by 2035, more than half of new passenger vehicles sold worldwide will be electric.
“Whether it’s sourcing or mining raw materials, optimizing battery manufacturing processes or safely and sustainably recovering metals, EV battery and component manufacturers face many challenges,” said Mary Beth Hudson, Executive Director of the Smart Factory Institute. “The Smart Factory Institute, operated by Peak Performance, is proud to bring together such a diverse array of innovators to help successfully integrate the next generation of electric vehicles into the national fleet.”
Kicking off the all-day conference, Thomas Rilke, CEO of the Deutsche Messe Technology Academy, and Bradley Jackson, President of the Tennessee Manufacturers Association, recognized the value of their partnership in supporting the Smart Factory Institute, the first Deutsche Messe industrial knowledge transfer facility in the United States, located at the Volkswagen Academy in Chattanooga.
“Tennessee is noted as the top state for automotive manufacturing strength, with four OEMs, we are uniquely positioned and excited to lead the electric vehicle transformation. The Tennessee Manufacturers Association is pleased to partner and support the Smart Factory Institute and its technology partners in championing EV battery technology, manufacturing and supply chain solutions that will make Tennessee the top state in the nation for EVs, creating high quality jobs across the Tennessee Valley,” said Jackson.
Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra, Founder & CEO of Sparkz, Inc. gave the keynote address, detailing how manufacturing sustainable and localized battery components will create value for U.S. workers, consumers and investors, and how Sparkz’ Zero Cobalt Lithium-Ion Battery is revolutionizing the battery supply chain.
According to Elizabeth Hammitt, Director, Residential Energy and Environmental Solutions at Chattanooga’s electricity and connectivity provider EPB,the conference is an opportunity to identify synergies and build partnerships among key players in this rapidly growing sector. “Electric vehicles and advanced battery production represent an incredible opportunity for job creation in the Chattanooga area and across Tennessee,” said Hammitt. “At EPB, we are particularly focused on how we can integrate these new technologies into Chattanooga’s advanced smart grid distribution system to enhance resilience and maximize the use of existing infrastructure for the benefit of our customers while supporting the companies we serve in maximizing the positive economic impact from manufacturing and utilizing these new technologies.”
The panel discussion featured Jeff Cohen, Vice President of Sales, Americas from EV charging company Tritium, who recently announced the establishment of its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Lebanon, Tennessee for manufacturing modular direct current (DC) fast chargers, an investment expected to produce up to 30,000 electric vehicle chargers a year and create 500 new jobs in Tennessee over the next five years.
Alongside Cohen, panelists included Drew Frye, Manager of Electric Vehicle Programs at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Matt Meservy, Director of Long-Range Planning Division at the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), and Alexa Voytek, Energy Programs Administrator at the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC), who also manages the Tennessee Electric Vehicle Advisory Council. The panel, moderated by Rick Youngblood of the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA), discussed regional impacts of the recent federal infrastructure package, which included $7.5 billion to build a national network of charging stations and the State’s work with local power companies to install, own and operate a network of EV charging stations along interstates and major highway corridors at least every 50 miles.
“TVA is leading a collaboration with local power companies and regional partners to develop one of our nation’s most comprehensive electric vehicle fast charging networks,” said John Bradley, TVA’s Senior Vice President of Economic Development. “Battery technology innovation is the key to getting more people on the road with EVs, and our Economic Development team is here to support the transportation industry in making sound site selection decisions. This area is becoming a hub for EV manufacturers and suppliers who are seeking the clean energy and reliable, low-cost power that TVA provides.”
Attendees also heard from Daniel Deas, Chief Operating Officer of Novonix Anode Materials, a leading producer of synthetic graphite anode materials used in the making of lithium-ion batteries. Last year, Novonix announced a $160 million investment in a Chattanooga plant expected to create 300 jobs in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Deas discussed solving battery materials supply chain issues by establishing the U.S. and North America as leaders in domestic advanced battery materials and manufacturing processes, which Novonix hopes to achieve.
Omer Onar, part of the research & development department at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), spoke about how an interdisciplinary team from ORNL, the University of Tennessee and Volkswagen is developing high-power wireless EV charging concepts by integrating breakthroughs in material science and recycling concepts.
Other speakers included Chad Vecitis, Co-Founder & CTO of Nth Cycle, an Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) Innovation Crossroads graduate company, who showcased how their battery recycling technology safely recovers key metals in a cheaper, more efficient and eco-friendly manner.
Dennis Gardner, Western Regional Sales Manager of Phoenix Contact, a Smart Factory Institute Technology Partner,gave attendees a comprehensive overview of different charging technologies. And Matt Mowry, Product Manager at Igus, also a Smart Factory Institute Technology Partner, presented flexible robotic solutions that can help battery manufacturers optimize their processes to meet increasing consumer needs.
Closing out the program, Denise Rice, President of & CEO of Peak Performance, thanked speakers and attendees and gave a preview of the next Smart Factory Institute event, titled “Smart Solutions for Smart Factories Expo,” taking place August 11, 2022, at the Smart Factory Institute inside the Volkswagen Academy.