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Lithium ion battery firm opens SCV plant

Quallion’s growth in the defense industry led to the need for more space and new location

Posted: April 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Plant manager Josh Stone displays a vial of mesocarbon microbeads, part of the manufacturing process of lithium-ion batteries, as he offers a tour of Quallion's new facility in the Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia on Monday.

Quallion’s ongoing growth and expansion into new industries led the company to open a new location in Santa Clarita’s Mann Biomedical Park on Monday.

Opening first to test runs to ensure the new lithium ion materials factory is operational; Quallion LLC hosted a tour on Monday as the new plant begins production this week on its lithium-ion battery.

Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, was also on hand to tour the plant.

Although the company continues to operate out of its Sylmar facility, more space was needed for machinery and staff to increase material production, said Amanda Reyes, marketing and public relations coordinator.

Both plants will manufacture components for the Quallion batteries, she said.

The opening of the Santa Clarita plant will help to create up to 50 more jobs at both plants, Reyes said. The company, founded in 1998, currently has up to 170 employees.

After years of looking for a reliable power source, entrepreneur Alfred E. Mann co-founded Quallion with Dr. Hisashi Tsukamoto to develop a rechargeable lithium battery for medical devices in the biomedical industry.

Named Quallion, after “quality lithium ion,” the company was founded to meet the need of producing long-life power sources that could be implanted into patients.

In latter years, Quallion’s expertise expanded into aerospace and defense.

The U.S. government has invested over $50 million in Quallion’s facilities, since 2006, to produce lithium ion batteries for defense satellites. And Quallion has invested over $10 million to match, Reyes said.

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Navy launched a satellite with the first Quallion battery to go into orbit.

The United States government needed a trusted domestic material and cell source for the lithium-ion batteries for aerospace use, said Vincent Visco, vice president of aerospace and military power, at the time of the launch.

Using patented technology, the firm’s battery provides higher power for longer periods of time, takes less space and weighs less than nickel cadmium or nickel hydrogen batteries.

More so, the Quallion battery has a unique “Zero-Volt” technology, which allows a user to de-charge all the energy in a battery down to zero volts.

The battery can then sit on a counter for years until it’s needed again. It can be recharged fully without the energy resource having been depleted, Reyes said. And there’s no permanent capacity loss, making it ideal for defense purposes.

In October 2012, however, the firm added a new dimension to its development of rechargeable batteries.

Quallion received a $2.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission to improve the lithium batteries used in electric vehicles.

The award went toward helping the company scale up production for a growing electric transportation market, reported the California Energy Commission.

The project consists of cost assessments, capacity, performance and reliability, along with design, testing and production, the commission said.




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