Lithium manufacturer no-go for Massac County

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Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist - Randall Barnes

MASSAC COUNTY, Ill. - A project that started with a grant from the Department of Energy is over for now, and so are the chances of a manufacturing facility to come to Massac County.

Back in January of 2012, Local 6 reported that Massac County was among the potential sites named in a grant proposal. The grant came to Honeywell from the U.S. Department of Energy. It centered on a material called lithium hexafluorophospate, also known as LiPF6, which is a key ingredient of making lithium batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles.

During the first phase of Honeywell's contract with the DOE, they completed construction of a pilot plant that validated the technical feasibility of the company's manufacturing process.

The second phase was building a full-scale LiPF6 production facility. According to the company, they determined that building a commercial-scale facility was no longer economically viable. They made the decision about six months ago to not move forward.

They told the DOE of their decision, but not county officials. A spokesperson told Local 6 that was because the grant was from the DOE and they never officially named Massac County as a potential site. 

County Commissioner Jerel Childers was surprised to hear the news when Local 6 called him for a comment. He said he was disappointed.

"I wish things would have worked out for them so the employees number can stay up out there," he said. He added that he's confident in the products the current Honeywell plant makes.

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