“This day marks an important moment for Alabama and for SiO2, whose high-tech vials will be used in the delivery of a vaccine that will help end the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Kay Ivey, who was in Auburn for the ribbon-cutting. “The technical accomplishments of SiO2 demonstrate to the world the kind of highly innovative and groundbreaking work that is being done in Alabama. We’re very grateful for this achievement and this company.”
SiO2 launched a $163 million expansion project at its Auburn facility this summer to ramp up production of its proprietary vial system after securing a major contract to supply the federal government with vials to support the COVID-19 vaccine effort.
Robert Abrams, founder and CEO of SiO2, said the company designed special machines, each 130 feet long and armed with sensitive cameras to detect defects or contaminants, to mass produce the vials. The facility will have 10 production lines, each capable of turning out 15 million vials and syringes per year.
“The container that this vaccine is in has to be so pure and perfect that it doesn’t have a negative effect on the vaccine,” Abrams said. “It’s a very complicated product. There is no one else in the world who could make it. This is just the beginning of a whole industry in Auburn, and the science developed there is protected by 300 worldwide patents and 6,000 patent claims.”
Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said SiO2’s well-timed expansion project in Auburn means that the nation’s health authorities will have an ample supply of vials and syringes to immediately administer brand-new vaccines for COVID-19.
“SiO2’s innovative vials represent a key strategic advantage for federal agencies by enabling them to act rapidly to distribute a vaccine to counter the coronavirus,” Canfield said. “SiO2’s work will save many lives and help get our country’s economy back on track.”
Abrams said SiO2, which had around 200 employees before the expansion project, is now targeting a workforce of 500, many of them engineers from Auburn University and other state universities