Constructing Tomorrow’s EV Gigafactories

Commentary Contributed by Joseph Windover, Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings, and Blake Hodess, Hodess Cleanroom Construction

May 14, 2024 | As the world embraces the hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) revolution, the need for gigafactories— massive facilities producing batteries—will continue to surge. The construction of EV battery facilities presents unique challenges and risks that must be carefully managed. From the intricate chemical makeup of batteries to the potential dangers of thermal runaway, safety protocols are paramount. Considerations like the implementation of clean and dry rooms, use of fire protective steel coatings and installation of chemically resistant resinous flooring systems are essential to maintain the integrity of battery production.

Our expertise on pre-construction projects for several U.S. battery facilities has highlighted the need to incorporate specific international and national safety standards, such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for battery testing and safety and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for workplace safety. We believe an informed and all-inclusive approach can further ensure the comprehensive protection of workers and facilities.

Safety Measures in EV Battery Plants

EV batteries are composed of a variety of raw materials, including lithium, nickel, and cobalt, which can introduce unique hazards like the risk of fire or chemical exposure during the manufacturing of the battery slurry. Construction and operational designs must include containment and ventilation systems to manage these risks effectively. One of the most significant risks in EV battery production is thermal runaway, a chain reaction that can cause a battery to overheat and potentially lead to fires or explosions. This warrants the need for advanced monitoring and cooling systems within the facility. Adopting standards like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 855 Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems (ESS) can help address the risks associated with thermal runaway and ESS.

Also, production of EV batteries requires environments that are clean and dry to protect from contamination or moisture. Clean rooms are designed to maintain low levels of particles by using sophisticated filtration systems. Similarly, dry rooms keep low levels of humidity, preventing moisture from degrading battery materials or affecting the assembly process. Constructing these specialized environments requires precise controls and materials that can meet specific cleanliness and humidity standards. Implementing the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14644 standards for cleanrooms and associated controlled environments ensures that these spaces meet the required air cleanliness levels for EV battery production.

The clean and dry rooms in a battery facility move a lot of air which, on its own, creates enormous amounts of static. When the room’s humidity is lowered below 40% RH (rate that is common in most battery manufacturing clean rooms), the chance of static is even greater. This can not only cause a defect in a battery but could also potentially shock and injure an employee. Using static dissipative resinous flooring products that are properly grounded can help protect both employees and products.

Shop-Applied Epoxy Intumescent Fireproof Steel Coatings 

Fireproofing steel structures is a fundamental aspect of ensuring the safety of any industrial facility, especially EV gigafactories. Traditionally, fireproof coatings have been field-applied (on-site), requiring extensive setup time, specialized equipment, and often workers exposed to potentially dangerous conditions at heights. However, advancements in construction techniques have led to the introduction of modern shop-application (off-site), which offers significant advantages in efficiency, safety, and reliability.

Shop-application streamlines the construction process by reducing downtime typically associated with field-applied fireproofing and minimizing the need for work at height. Consistency in coating thickness is paramount for effective fire protection. The controlled conditions of the shop environment ensure consistent coating thickness and quality, ensuring uniform coverage across all steel components. This consistency enhances the reliability of the fireproofing, providing a robust defense against potential fire hazards within the facility.

Adherence to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E119 Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials further confirms the value of the coatings, offering reassurance to stakeholders about their performance under various conditions. In addition to fire resistance, corrosion resistance is another critical factor in the longevity and durability of coatings. Obtaining ISO 12944 certification for corrosion protection of steel structures ensures that the coatings can withstand exposure to environmental elements and aggressive chemical environments commonly found in industrial settings like EV battery plants. This comprehensive approach to protective coatings not only enhances safety but contributes to the long-term integrity of a facility’s infrastructure.

Resinous Systems to Safeguard Plant Floors, Workers and High-Risk Zones

In EV battery facilities, the choice of flooring is a critical part of operational integrity. Chemically resistant, as well as static controlled and carbon black slip resistant, resinous flooring systems have become indispensable solutions, offering a suite of benefits tailored to the unique demands of these environments. Resinous flooring systems are engineered to withstand the rigors of industrial settings, particularly those exposed to corrosive chemicals like N-Methyl pyrrolidone (NMP). The chemical resistance of these flooring systems ensures that spills and leaks do not compromise the structural integrity of the flooring, minimizing the risk of accidents and allowing for efficient cleanup procedures. By safeguarding against chemical deterioration, resinous flooring systems contribute significantly to the overall safety and efficiency of EV battery facilities.

Resinous flooring systems are engineered to withstand the rigors of industrial settings, particularly those exposed to corrosive substances like battery acids and electrolytes. The chemical resistance of these flooring systems ensures that spills and leaks do not compromise the structural integrity of the flooring, minimizing the risk of accidents and allowing for efficient cleanup procedures. By safeguarding against chemical deterioration, resinous flooring systems contribute significantly to the overall safety and efficiency of EV battery facilities.

Resinous flooring also provides significant protection by reducing the permeability of concrete. This is necessary for a dry room’s performance, as it creates a non-shedding, cleanable surface critical to particulate control. Moisture and particles create more defects than any other contaminants, followed by static discharge, which resinous flooring can also reduce. The use of conductive floors in dry rooms less than 1 RH, ESD floors in all clean room areas, and non-conductive floors in non-clean and dry areas help reduce defects in the batteries. Defects caused by any of the three items listed here could potentially cause the battery to smoke or catch fire when being aged (charged) for operation.

Compliance with ASTM D1308 Standard Test Method for Effects of Liquid or Gel Chemicals on Paint and Related Coatings ensures that the chemical resistance of the flooring systems has been rigorously evaluated. By obtaining certifications like ASTM D1308, manufacturers and facility operators can instill confidence in resinous flooring systems, further reinforcing their suitability and benefits for demanding environments like EV battery facilities. This attention to certified chemical resistance is crucial for maintaining the facility’s operational integrity and safety.

Prioritizing Safety in EV Gigafactory Construction

Constructing and operating EV gigafactories requires a holistic and proactive approach to safety. From the planning stages to the construction phase, safety considerations need to be integrated into every decision. This includes identifying potential hazards, implementing preventive measures, continuously monitoring and adapting to evolving safety standards and regulations. These standards ensure that facilities are designed, built, and operated in a way that protects workers, communities, and the environment.

Compliance involves regular audits, certification processes, and ongoing training to make sure staff know about the latest safety protocols. Engaging with international bodies like ISO and IEC for the latest in safety and operational standards can also be especially beneficial. Through stringent adherence to safety standards and an adoption of a proactive and comprehensive safety plan, we can work to ensure that the goals of the EV revolution are reached responsibly and sustainably, safeguarding both people and progress.


Joseph Windover is a seasoned Construction Executive within the Sherwin-Williams Construction Solutions team, boasting over 25 years of experience across diverse industries, including manufacturing and technology. Since joining Sherwin-Williams in 2016, Windover has been instrumental in working with general contractors to streamline operations and ensure a safer, faster, simpler construction of electric vehicle battery cell and semiconductor facilities. He currently serves as a committee member of the Charles Pankow Foundation, where he is collaborating on the development of modular steel floor innovations for tall building construction. Windover has also served as Chair for the Ohio and Indiana chapters of AMPP since 2018. He is a recognized published contributor for the Institute for Construction Innovation and has been a speaker at industry-leading events such as the Advancing Integrated Project Delivery Summit and the Advanced Manufacturing Facility Conference. He can be reached at

As Chief Executive Officer of Hodess Cleanroom Construction, Blake Hodess offers over 35 years of construction experience. Hodess is highly recognized in the industry for his expertise in advanced technology construction. He has vast experience in all project responsibilities throughout the construction process such as establishing budgets, performing quality, cost-effective, on-schedule completion of projects, effective monitoring and directing of field operations, and negotiating subcontracts. Hodess is a member of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) and is a member of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He can be reached at