FLORHAM PARK, NJ - Chemical company BASF on Oct. 27 broke ground on a $50-plus million facility in Elyria, Ohio, that will produce advanced cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries that will power the hybrid and full-electric vehicles of the near future.  

The groundbreaking event attracted a number of federal, state and local officials, as well as representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), its affiliated Argonne National Laboratory, and numerous BASF employees from Ohio and other parts of the company's global manufacturing and research and development operations.

"This new facility will put BASF and the state of Ohio at the leading edge of the North American cathode materials market," said Frank Bozich, president of BASF's catalysts division and a member of BASF Corp.'s North American executive committee.

The new BASF production facility in Elyria is being built with the help of a $24.6 million grant from the DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The facility is expected to produce 2,500 metric tons per year of nickel-cobalt-metal cathode materials --a critical component of lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

The technology included in the batteries is licensed from DOE's Argonne National Laboratory. When the plant is fully operational in 2012, it is expected to be the most advanced cathode materials production plant in North America.