Dec 5, 2023 - News

Forge Nano's new Triangle factory will add to North Carolina's growing 'battery belt'

Three batteries as the bars of a bar chart, each one increasing in height.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Forge Nano, a Colorado-based battery company that picked Morrisville for a new manufacturing facility, could be at full production in the Triangle in two years, its CEO Paul Lichty told Axios.

Why it matters: Forge Nano is one of several companies contributing to a growing "battery belt" in the Southeast and specifically in North Carolina, as Lichty put it.

  • With companies like Toyota and Epsilon Advanced Materials picking the state for expansion, state leaders have placed a big bet on batteries becoming a significant source of employment.

Driving the news: Forge Nano announced Nov. 14 plans to invest $165 million into a new battery production facility at 401 Southport Dr. in Morrisville, and hire around 200 people by 2027.

  • It's currently in the process of making its existing building fit its needs for manufacturing.
  • The state, Wake County and Morrisville gave the company around $3.2 million in combined incentives for the facility.

The intrigue: Lichty said that Forge was looking at several states, but found the Triangle attractive for its central location in the supply chain for batteries as well as its talented workforce.

  • And, Lichty said, it's simply an attractive place for people to live.

What they're saying: "There are examples in the battery market of building battery factories at places where people don't want to work and having hiring problems," Lichty said.

  • But the Triangle, much like Colorado, he added, is great at getting people to move there and stay.

Details: Forge, founded in 2011, wants to produce battery cells at its Morrisville plant that feature its own protective, nano-coating technology.

  • The company raised $50 million from investors earlier this year to boost its production of batteries.

The big picture: The battery business is becoming more competitive, as industries across the board seek to go greener through electrification.

  • As a relative newcomer, Lichty said Forge has gotten a foothold by focusing specifically on the defense and aerospace industries, providing batteries for objects like radios and other electronics.
  • "The average soldier carries about 20 pounds of batteries on them at any given time," Lichty said. "So if we can improve the energy density and either remove 20% of that weight, or give them functionality for something else, that's what [the Department of Defense] is motivated to see."
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