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Ductile Iron Foundry Proposed in Iowa

April 28, 2011
North American Ductile Iron Co. Wind Energy Supply Chain Campus

A group called North American Ductile Iron Co., or Nadicom, is proposing a new foundry to be built in Iowa City, IA, and promising 175 new jobs by 2013. With a budget of $85 million, the foundry would cast and machine components for wind turbines, according to Nadicom CEO Prasad Karunakaran, though other customer segments like railroad and agricultural equipment might be pursued in the future.

No date has been set for groundbreaking. It would be the first foundry in North America for Nadicom, though little information is available about it’s other operations, and the CEO said discussions with local and state officials regarding the project are incomplete.

Very little information is available regarding Nadicom, which appears to be a start-up company. In addition to his role with the new outfit, Karunakaran is listed as the president of Zenyon, an information technology services company. He is identified also as a past manager of North American operations for Emirates Techno Casting, a supplier of steel castings to oil, gas, power, chemical engineering, construction, and mining sectors in the United Arab Emirates.

The new foundry would be built at Iowa City’s Wind Energy Supply Chain Campus, which has rail access and proximity to interstate highways. The Iowa City Area Development Group and the city have been developing the industrial site and recruiting wind-energy suppliers, who would have proximity to two wind turbine manufacturers, Acciona Energy North America Corp. in West Branch, IA, and Clipper Wind Power in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Similar projects have been proposed in Michigan and Kansas to supply wind turbine manufacturers. In June 2010, URV USA LLC proposed a foundry in Rochester, MI, to cast parts for turbines. That company is a subsidiary of Finland’s URV Foundry, which produces ductile and gray iron castings for heavy machinery OEMs. It has earned subsidies from the state’s Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing initiative, along with federal stimulus funding. It promises to create 100 “clean energy” jobs.

In February a $40-million ductile iron foundry was proposed for a site in Hutchinson, KS, to supply parts for a Siemens wind turbine manufacturing plant there. Fundiciones Wind Energy Casting, or Fundiciones W.E.C., is a metalcasting concern established in 2002 in Spain, dedicated to producing components for customers building and servicing wind turbines.

Governor Terry Branstad and Nadicom CEO Prasad Karunakaran announced the Nadicom project at this week’s Iowa Wind Energy Assn. annual conference, in Des Moines.

It’s not known what incentives were offered to Nadicom to secure the development. A press release indicated that the state has been negotiating with Nadicom for several months, and Karunakaran indicated that a site in one other state was considered.

“We plan to build this operation from the ground up, and wanted a location that would allow us to leverage our location to maximize productivity,” stated Karunakaran. “This Iowa City site provided a central location, complete with rail and other logistical considerations, and access to a world-class work force.”