Gränges, a a Swedish company that specializes in the production of rolled aluminum products for heat exchanger applications and other niche products, broke ground Monday (Dec. 19) on an expansion at its Newport facility.
Company officials said it’s the first in the U.S. to invest in battery cathode foil (BCF) production. It’s the latest expansion for the company that re-vamped its Newport operations in 2018.
The cost of the expansion was not released. Gränges expects battery cathode foil production to be available in the first quarter of 2024, and is expected to employ at least 43 more workers.
“We continue to invest in the foil industry benefiting our customers, employees and the communities in which we operate”, said Gränges Americas President Patrick Lawlor. “Gränges is excited to lead the way in battery foil development partnering with the State of Arkansas to invest in this exciting new high-growth industry.”
The expansion is a result of increased demand for battery cathode foil in electric vehicles and markets moving toward battery-driven electrification. The expansion will include equipment for finishing and a clean room necessary for BCF production.
“Gränges is a great example of how foreign direct investment improves economic conditions for Arkansas communities, but also how our state’s business climate improves the bottom line for the international companies who choose to locate here,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “From a dedicated workforce to low business costs to a central location for distribution, Arkansas is gaining recognition throughout the world as a state that prioritizes company needs and new technologies from research to market. I’m pleased that Gränges chose Arkansas and look forward to watching them continue to grow and prosper.”
Arkansas was one of several locations being considered for the project and a natural fit given Gränges’ Newport facility has a long history of high-end foil application development.
“Arkansas is pleased that Gränges has selected Newport as the site of this ground-breaking facility,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “We are looking forward to partnering with the company in their efforts to invest in and grow the labor force in Newport as well as increase the domestic production of battery cathode foil. We believe that Arkansas is the perfect fit for what the future has in store for Gränges.”
BCF is a critical component for lithium-ion batteries, which are essential in the production of electric vehicles.
“Gränges and the Newport Economic Development Commission have forged a great working relationship that benefits the community and the company,” said Jon Chadwell, director of Economic Development. “Newport is blessed with great corporate citizens like Gränges, and we are excited to work with them to produce this product that is vital for the future of the automotive industry.”
“Newport has experienced a lot of industrial growth over the last 20 years,” said Newport Mayor David Stewart. “Gränges revitalized a practically abandoned plant and brought high paying, quality jobs back to our community. We are so glad they chose Newport for this expansion.”
Gränges expects battery cathode foil production to be available in the first quarter of 2024.
Gränges purchased Noranda Aluminum in 2016 and acquired the Newport facility along with those in Tennessee and North Carolina. The company’s Arkansas facility has one of the widest aluminum rolling mills in the United States and utilizes a proprietary coating process, according to the company. At one time, the former Noranda Aluminum company had hundreds of workers in Newport, Chadwell added.