Essential Energy Tour | May 16, 2024

Essential Energy Tour Stop #5: ENTEK International

We’re touring several U.S.-based battery manufacturing and recycling stars who help form the strong network of BCI member companies. They provide batteries and the services and supplies that are used to create those batteries. They also comprise the vast domestic infrastructure that ensures a reliable energy storage source exists to power the U.S. economy.

ENTEK’s HQ location is home to the world’s largest lead battery separator manufacturing site

Founded by Jim Young in 1984 in Lebanon, Oregon, ENTEK has been a consistent leader in operational excellence, innovation, and sustainability for four decades.

ENTEK manufactures battery separators for lead batteries in the U.S, UK, Indonesia, Japan, and China and battery separators for lithium batteries in the U.S.  It is vertically integrated and provides engineering, project management, fabrication, installation, and commissioning for the battery separator lines that it operates.

ENTEK Essential Energy Tour, Lebanon, Oregon

As a designer and manufacturer of twin screw extruders and material handling equipment, the company also provides turn-key manufacturing solutions to manufacturers of other products used in a variety of markets and end use applications

Here’s a closer look at ENTEK International’s commitment to creating value through product and manufacturing innovation:

A commitment to local communities

ENTEK serves communities across the globe through direct employment of skilled labor, including roughly 500 full-time employees at its corporate headquarters alone.  ENTEK is proud to take an active role in supporting the communities where it operates.

Being a good neighbor in the communities where it operates is one of the firm’s founding principles, and ENTEK means success by more than just great products and services by embracing civic participation. The company proudly boasts long-term partnerships with organizations such as The Boys & Girls Club, the Lebanon Strawberry Festival, and other programs.  Its annual employee nonprofit also operates a “Coats for Kids” program that began more than 30 years ago, ensuring that kids in its community have warm winter coats. ENTEK also directly provides an annual luncheon to recognize military veteran employees, and provides an annual Thanksgiving Food Box program which provides a complete holiday meal to families in need.

Numerous sports teams, robotics programs, materials for school-based metalworking projects, safe and sober graduation parties for  local high schools, and hosts numerous tours to encourage high school juniors and seniors to consider manufacturing career opportunities.

ENTEK employees volunteering
ENTEK employees volunteering during local food box project.

ENTEK volunteers put together over 200 Thanksgiving Food Boxes for local families in 2023.

Global growth initiatives

ENTEK manufactures products at sites in Oregon, California, and Nevada in the US, as well as overseas manufacturing locations in the UK, Indonesia, Japan, and China.

ENTEK global locations

Even at this large production scale, ENTEK maintains the philosophy of its founder Jim Young that anything is possible with a “can do” attitude. ENTEK attributes many of its successes to this valuable mindset that has helped the company grow into what it is today.

“Our vision isn’t limited by geography: we stand ready to serve customers anywhere on the globe. We are a technology company and thrive at the intersection of material science, process technology, and equipment manufacturing.  As part of its core value of innovation, ENTEK maintains an active research and development effort to develop new products and markets. We will enter new markets where we can make a positive difference for our customers,” said Rick Pekala, ENTEK’s Chief Technology Officer.

At its flagship Oregon facility, ENTEK produces large rolls of battery separators for both lead and lithium batteries, offering a portfolio of products based on its core competencies in material science, innovation, and manufacturing excellence.

ENTEK essential energy tour

ENTEK’s equipment division supports the separators business through the design, engineering, fabrication, installation, and commissioning equipment and parts with their in-house engineering, project management, controls, machining, and fabrication resources.

The company is also a U.S. market leader for production of twin screw extruders and material handling systems.

It provides turn-key projects from site selection to plant layout, through installation and commissioning.

Continued investment in innovation and R&D

ENTEK is widely recognized for operational excellence and innovation. The firm continues to invest in technology and production capacity for the energy storage industry around the world.

ENTEK first began commercial production of wet-process lithium separators at its Oregon facility in 2001 and is investing in new plant sites to continue its innovation, research, and production.

ENTEK essential energy tour, manufacturing facility

Separators—microporous membranes that allow the flow of ions between battery electrodes that power the entire unit—are the key to a battery’s performance. They are fundamental components in the batteries used to energize the vehicles and tools that power everyday life.

Simply put, without battery separators, there would be no rechargeable batteries.

The company is developing a greenfield site in Terre Haute, Ind., to produce lithium separators for electric vehicles. They selected Clayco as General Contractor for the new facility that will generate more than 640 high-wage jobs by the end of 2029. The plant will produce roughly 1.4 billion square meters of battery separators per year, or enough to supply material for approximately 1.4 million vehicles annually.

“ENTEK is a global technology company,” stated, Larry Keith, CEO. “For 40 years, we have invested in innovation and productivity, and we will continue to lead with these principles into the next 40 years and beyond.”

ENTEK continues to invest in cutting-edge technology and has a dedicated Technology Center in both Oregon and Japan. Its robust R&D department includes experts in polymer science, materials science, electrochemistry, mechanical engineering, controls engineering, chemical engineering, and analytical chemistry.

A history of sustainability

ENTEK works hard to be a world-class manufacturer of energy storage components, but also works hard to ensure that it has built a business that also leaves the world a better place.

That’s why the company has partnered with Pacific Power’s Blue-Sky program to support development of renewable energy resources in our region and with the Energy Trust of Oregon to further invest in our manufacturing site in Oregon to support a cleaner, greener world.

ENTEK also invests in a culture of finding ways to recycle and ultimately do more with less. The firm has been a 99.9% recycler of its raw material streams since the early days of lead battery separator production. All trim and any separator material that is not sent to a customer is recycled back into the raw material mix to produce new separators.

ENTEK continues its commitment to finding more sustainable options through investments in technology for solvent and oil recovery and recapture. Here are just a few examples of ENTEK’s leadership in sustainability technology:

  • Start-Stop Technology – To address the industry’s standards for extended flooded battery applications used in Start-Stop vehicles, ENTEK developed its LR battery separator technology which provides increased puncture strength, low electrical resistance, high oxidation resistance and low water loss required to support these batteries.
  • Recycling and Bioplastics – ENTEK has supplied twin-screw extrusion systems and processing support to the industry since 2003. Today, many of the leading suppliers in this rapidly growing industry sector produce biopolymers and products utilizing recycled plastics on ENTEK machinery.
  • Energy Storage – From hybrid and electric vehicles to solar and wind farms, and EV fast-charging stations, ENTEK provides separator solutions for nearly all energy storage applications.

Thank you, ENTEK International, for letting us get to know you better!

Watch this space for other tour stops, as we travel the country sharing details about an industry that provides nearly 45% of the world’s rechargeable energy storage and contributes billions of dollars to our domestic economy. Until then, read about Tour Stop #1 with Hammond Group, Inc., Stop #2 with Crown Battery, Stop #3 with Gopher Resource, and Stop #4 East Penn Manufacturing.


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