In October, Texas-based MicroVast won a US$20 million grant from the ministry to help build a new EV battery component factory in Tennessee.
Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House Science Committee, said nearly 80% of Microvast’s assets are in China and 61% of its 2021 revenue will come from China.
“Funding an organization with known ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) raises serious concerns about the Department’s ability to protect American taxpayer money from being exploited by the CCP,” Mr. Lucas said in a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
In November, Microwaste and General Motors agreed to “develop specialized EV battery separator technology and build a new separator plant in the U.S., which is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.” Companies are investing $304 million in the program, according to Microwaste.
Separators are used to separate the anode from the cathode in batteries. GM said it is collaborating with Microwaste on its advanced separator technology.
Senator John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wrote in a separate letter to Granholm that Microwaste is “tied to China at the hip.” He called the award “clearly antithetical” to the intent of the $1 trillion infrastructure law of 2012.
“MicroWast is an American battery company,” the Department of Energy said, adding that with the grant, it “will no longer need to look to China to establish its manufacturing facilities” and will “allow MicroWast to build a separator manufacturing plant at home.” “
More than 200 companies applied for $2.8 billion in DOE grants, and 20 were awarded.
Microwaste and General Motors had no immediate comment.
The $430 billion climate bill approved in August increases mineral and battery component sourcing requirements in a $7,500 EV tax credit and aims to phase out content from countries like China.