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Æsir set to build nickel-zinc gigafactory to serve back-up power markets

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 15:22 -- paul Crompton

Battery manufacturer Æsir Technologies is set to build its nickel-zinc gigafactory in South Dakota, US, to service the backup power markets. 

The Rapid City plant’s planned two billion watt hours of production capacity will serve the data center and 5G network back-up power markets.

Phase 1 of the $250 million investment includes the state of South Dakota providing debt support for the building and equipment with funding up to $1 million in workforce development. 

Randy Moore, Æsir’s CEO, said they chose South Dakota because the economic development package put forward by the state was significantly superior to the other 20 locations being considered.

He said: “Incentives offered by many other locations consisted of tax abatements of taxes that don’t exist in South Dakota. 

“Here, the incentives provided true leverage to make our financial plan come together.” 

Æsir said that “most” of the equipment used in the manufacturing process will come from Wirtz Manufacturing in Michigan, US.

The firm plans to directly source its nickel laterites from the Philippines and domestically convert it to nickel hydroxide- the main ingredient for its cathode. 

The data center market has traditionally used lead-acid batteries, but has been turning more and more to lithium-ion.

Bob Galyen, a member of Æsir’s technical advisory board and former CTO of CATL, said: “Of all the possible battery chemistries to be applied in a data center or 5G solution, nickel zinc is probably the best suited due to its energy density, safety attributes, and broad operating temperature range.”

The firm's Joplin facility works with the US Navy and Air Force to develop nickel zinc technology for Virginia Class Submarines and the Minuteman III ICBM, respectively. 

Æsir’s batteries are produced under non-exclusive license to use ZAF Energy Systems’ intellectual property. 

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