$20 million DuPont facility planned for Chesterfield

By Andy Jenks

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Chesterfield County's largest private employer is making a big investment in a tiny product.

DuPont, which employs 2500 people at the Spruance plant in Chesterfield, is now going to invest $20 million in a new facility, nearby. But the number of new jobs will be small, at first.

According to a news release, DuPont wants "...to make the first nano-fiber based polymeric separators for high-performance lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles and many other potential commercial uses."

In other words, DuPont will make battery parts, and it'll happen at a new plant along Jeff. Davis Highway. Governor Bob McDonnell said Virginia competed successfully against other locations.

"Not only is Virginia open for business, but the people that are already here find it a great place to do business, and want to expand here," McDonnell said.

DuPont executives believe their product is more powerful, longer lasting, and better for the environment.

"If this technology proves out like we think it will, the sky's the limit for where this can go," said Thomas Powell, President of DuPont Protection Technologies.

But will the market for electric cars, and thus car batteries, justify the investment? The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association says demand is on the way up.

"Now, the technology is getting locked down. So the manufacturers, it's clear, have put a lot of investment  in electric vehicles," said VADA's Michael Allen.

DuPont will benefit from Virginia Enterprise Zone tax credits. The new plant is expected to open early next year. 11 new jobs will be created.

"As electric cars and lithium ion batteries become more of a staple in the industry, we expect that number to grow," McDonnell said.

DuPont has been in Chesterfield since 1929. Construction work begins on the new plant later this year. 70 construction jobs will be created in addition to the 11 production jobs once the plant opens in 2011.

Here is the original news release from the office of the Governor:

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that DuPont will invest $20 million to establish a facility in Chesterfield County to make the first nanofiber-based polymeric separators for high-performance lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles and many other potential commercial uses.

The facility, an early commercial-scale plant to produce the new material for this growing market, will be located at a leased building in Chesterfield County and will begin operations in early 2011. Virginia successfully competed against a number of other locations for the project.

The facility will further refine and develop DuPont Energain separators, a nanofiber-based material that improves safety by allowing high-performance lithium-ion batteries to operate at higher temperatures and can increase power up to 30 percent.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Chesterfield County to secure the project for Virginia. The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

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