Battery company considering $56M investment in Kettering plant

Xerion Advanced Battery Corp. opened its Kettering facility last November.

Xerion Advanced Battery Corp.’s CEO said his company is considering spending more than $50 million on manufacturing operations at his company’s Miami Valley Research Park location in Kettering.

The company opened its Kettering facility last November. Since then, the company has slowly grown the facility with a “phased move-in,” Chief Executive John Busbee said in a recent interview.

A producer of what it touts as a quick-charging battery material, Xerion moved to Kettering from Illinois last year, and city officials hope the business will eventually create 52 full-time jobs. Kettering authorized up to $225,000 in grant funding for Xerion to help the move.

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Today, the company has 15 employees, with four hired in the last two months. Busbee expects to hire another three this month.

Development of Xerion’s first-generation product is complete, and the business is planning its next moves — including a pilot-scale manufacturing facility.

The prototype manufacturing facility will require an investment of about $6 million while the main manufacturing operation will require an investment of more than $50 million, Busbee said.

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“We are actually doing the scale-up engineering right now,” he said. “We are also in the process of buying a commercial pilot-scale assembly line.”

Xerion has 10,000 square feet of office and lab space and another 10,000 square feet of manufacturing and prototyping space in a building where Eastman Kodak formerly had printing and manufacturing operations.

There’s also room for another 100,000 square feet of space across two floors in Xerion’s building off Research Boulevard.

The pilot-scale line should be running in this year’s third quarter, Busbee said. Construction will start on the commercial manufacturing operation in 2018, with manufacturing starting in the first quarter of 2019.

“That plant will be here in Dayton, and it will probably be here in this building,” the CEO said.

The company has two main technologies. One technology can directly electroplate battery material, something Busbee says no one has done before. That saves energy costs, he said.

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The company also has a special conductive foam, which allows faster charges, he said.

Together, those two technologies allow for a special “battery platform,” Busbee said.

Customers can include anyone who needs highly customizable batteries, including military applications for soldiers and drones. Automotive applications and personal electronics, such as tablets and phones, are longer-term possibilities, Busbee said.

“The ability to expand in most drones is directly related to the advances in batteries,” Busbee said. “So we feel like it’s a real opportunity for us.”

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John Cook, manager of research and development for Xerion, said he has turned down job offers from Apple and Tesla to work for Xerion.

“We’re doing cutting-edge stuff here,” Cook said. “We’re making batteries people will want to buy.”

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