US Steel’s InduX NOES to target growing EV sector

US Steel (USS) will use its upcoming non-grain-oriented electrical steel (NOES) line at Big River Steel in Osceola, Arkansas, to produce a line of thinner electrical steel the company has branded InduX

USS announced on March 23 its plans to become one of just two US producers of the silicon alloy steel required to make electric vehicle (EV) motors, the company will be significantly expanding domestic capacity.

Commissioning of the $450-million NOES line at Big River Steel is expected in late summer 2023. According to US Steel’s website, the steelmaker expects the line will produce 40,000 short tons in the third quarter of 2023 and hit full production of 200,000 tons per year in 2025.

Currently, annual production of motor steels in the US is around 400,000-500,000 tonnes, including just 100,000 tonnes of NOES, according to Phillip Gibbs, KeyBanc Capital markets managing director and senior equity analyst for metals and aerospace. The remaining material is lower-quality cold-rolled motor lamination.

Electrical steel for EV and aircraft motors

The new product line will compete with Cleveland-Cliffs “Motor-Max” line of non-oriented electrical steel, which was introduced in December 2022 and designed for EV and aircraft motors, generators and other rotating equipment operating at frequencies above 60 hertz.

In the near term, InduX electrical steel will serve the automotive end market, a USS spokesperson told Fastmarkets, adding that the company could choose to expand into other markets later on.

Indux will target thinner gauges of NOES between 0.1-0.5 millimeters thick, according to a 2021 investor presentation provided by the company, which claimed the thinner material was not widely available among competitors.

President and chief executive officer David Burritt told investors in a February earnings call that US Steel already had buyers lining up to purchase material from the upcoming NOES line.

US Steel expects to earn $320 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization from the NOES line across 2024, 2025 and 2026, according to the presentation, which touted non-grain-oriented electrical steel’s “significant premium” to hot-rolled coil prices.

The US imported only around 14,000 tonnes of non-grain-oriented flat-rolled silicon electrical steel in 2022, up 66.67% from around 8,400 tonnes in 2021, according to data from the US International Trade Commission’s Interactive Trade DataWeb. The top three importing nations were France, Austria and Romania.

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