Last month, the lithium battery industry lost another giant: Ralph J. Brodd.  Ralph had not been active in the battery industry for several years.  As a result his name may not be familiar to many who entered the industry during that time.  But Ralph may be one of the most consequential figures in the history of advanced battery technology in the United States.

Ralph’s resume reads like a laundry list of positions and accomplishments.  He was a past President of the Electrochemical Society. He was an advisor to most of the national laboratories working on advanced battery technology.  He published more than 110 articles and was awarded five patents.  And that barely scratches the surface.  Yet he was also one of the kindest, most decent and most humble men you could ever hope to meet.

Ralph’s most enduring impact on U.S. industry grew out of his article “Factors Affecting U.S. Production Decisions: Why Are There No Volume Lithium-Ion Battery Manufactures in the United States?” published in December 2006.  In that article, Ralph was the first to sound the alarm about the loss of lithium-ion battery manufacturing capability in the United States and the long-term consequences of that loss.

Over the past few years, federal and state governments have made unprecedented investments in electric vehicles and supply chain projects to try to help U.S. manufacturers and U.S. workers regain the lead in lithium-ion battery manufacturing. The revised Section 30D tax credit will inject about $7.5 billion of investment into U.S.-made electric vehicles.  The Advanced Manufacturing Production Credit should generate tax credits of about $30.6 billion to U.S. manufacturers through 2031.  An additional $13.8 billion of subsidies has been awarded by states and localities to at least 51 electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery plants.  Every single one of those investments can trace its origin to Ralph Brodd and his 2006 article.

I first met Ralph in 2007.  It was Ralph who convinced me to found NAATBatt in order to address the looming crisis of lithium battery technology in the United States.  That effort in turn caught the attention of a first-term Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.  The rest is history.

Now Ralph belongs to history.  He had more impact on it than many realize.  Our sincere condolences to Dorothy and to the rest of the Brodd family.  Ralph will be sorely missed.