LG Chem wanted the design of its new lithium ion battery plant to mirror the philosophy behind the development of the types of hybrid and electric vehicles those types of batteries are used in. In other words, they wanted the building to be sustainable, efficient, attractive and cost-effective. Their objective was met through the use of wall systems from Kingspan Insulated Panels for the plant's construction.
Groundbreaking for the plant, located in Holland, MI, was held on July 15, 2010. Guest of honor at the ceremony was President Barack Obama, who was been a leading voice in the need for development of electric cars. The plant was designed to be able to annually produce enough batteries to power 60,000 electric vehicles. This facility is LG Chem's first advanced battery plant in the United States.
“This project is a critical component of LG Chem Michigan’s natural progression to establish cell-pack assembly capability within the U.S.,” said Kee Eun, planning director of LG Chem Michigan, Inc., speaking at the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce's Early Bird Breakfast presentation, on September 12, 2011. “Completion of this facility will demonstrate our commitment to meet each automotive customer’s product demands and requirements.”
Roncelli, Inc. was selected as the project's design-builder primarily because of its understanding of critical manufacturing process and LG Chem’s business objectives. The entire design-build process, was completed in fifteen months. Roncelli’s project schedule included five milestones to reach and turn over critically sequenced areas for tests of the manufacturing processes. Roncelli also assisted the equipment startup and commissioning processes for all systems.
LG Chem wanted the Holland factory to mirror the philosophy driving the Chevy Volt: sustainable, long-term efficiency, eye-catching style, and performance, all at a satisfactory cost. Associates of the project’s architectural firm, Rossetti, viewed the Kingspan Optimo wall system when they visited Kingspan’s facility near Toronto, Canada. They left feeling certain that the Optimo Smooth line was the best product to be specified. It has tested R-values as high as 30, superior airtightness, and low thermal bridging. In comparison to conventional cavity-based insulation systems, the Optimo panel ratings and features can bring a potential energy savings up to 30 percent.
The LG Chem project used a very innovative application method for the highly insulating metal wall system. The designs required a custom 40” module horizontal Optimo Smooth wall panel with a narrow ¼” reveal. Light gray and slightly darker gray Kingspan Optimo panels, each one two inches thick, surround the structure. These perfectly uniform insulated metal panels clad most of the exterior and also do double duty as an interior wall in the warehouse area of the building.
Because Kingspan insulated metal panels are a single-component system, installation time was reduced by as much as 50 percent over standard multipart site-assembled built-up cladding. Increasing the speed of construction, minimizing delays, and reducing the number of trades workers are benefits of great importance to the deadline-driven needs of manufacturers. Kingspan’s Optimo Smooth insulated metal panel system offers other benefits too, including exceptional moisture and vapor drive management.
“With nearly 208,000 square feet of Kingspan’s Optimo Smooth wall panels, in two different colors, and a fast track installation schedule, the LG Chem project was a challenging production,” said Dan Hooper of Universal Walls, Inc., which installed the panels. “However, from the onset, Kingspan’s engineering and sales teams were excellent in providing Universal Wall Systems with the information needed during the design phase, so we in turn could then provide the owner with the desired detailing.”
In addition to the customized wall panel design, louvers and glazing were integrated into the wall panels to maintain that same ¼” reveal pattern throughout the design. This cohesive design, together with the flat, smooth wall panels, produced extremely tight tolerances requiring constant attention to the concrete, structural framing, and ultimately the panel installation. “In addition to the exceptionally high-quality, smooth, wall panels, it was early and constant coordination between Kingspan, Universal Wall Systems, and the others in the project team, that resulted in such an attractive, pleasing installation the owner will enjoy for years to come,” said Dan Hooper. “I look forward to future projects where UWSI and Kingspan can collaborate to provide other owners with the quality materials and installation that were utilized on the LG Chem Holland Project.”
Optimo Smooth also provides a certain “Wow!” factor as it gives the LG Chem plant a visually pleasing exterior. This outer surface reflects the precision work performed in the scientific clean rooms where the advanced batteries are produced.