SK On closes deal with Urbix for anode development


The battery cell manufacturer SK On has joined forces with the US graphite processor Urbix to develop anode materials for its batteries. The South Korean company is interested in innovative materials and securing its US supply chain.

Should the partnership with Urbix extend successfully, SK On may pave the way for establishing an anode supply chain in North America. What is more, this time, the Korean company openly said it was eyeing subsidies under the US government’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) with the deal. The IRA requires materials to be sourced primarily in the US for electric vehicles to be eligible for federal subsidies.

In terms of the actual cells, SK On has yet to reveal any technical details but used general terms saying the goal was to develop “environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials customised for SK On batteries”.

In focus, however, seems to be the environmental credibility Urbix brings to the table. According to SK On, Urbix is renowned for recycling 70 per cent of chemicals without using hydrofluoric acid and hydrogen chloride in the refining process. In this way, SK On expects to “beef up its competitiveness as a leading sustainable battery manufacturer”. So the development of the new anode materials may be more about their footprint in production than about increasing energy density or charging power at the battery cell level.

SK On builds several large battery factories in the USA

Urbix, based in Mesa, Arizona, is currently completing the construction and commissioning of its 1,000-tonne-per-year demonstration plant and plans to expand its production capacity to 28,500 tonnes annually by 2025.

SK On already has a battery cell production facility in the US state of Georgia, from which it supplies VW for the US production of the ID.4 and Ford for the F-150 Lightning, among others. Together with Ford, three more battery factories with 43 GWh, each are under construction (in Kentucky and Tennessee) under the banner of the BlueOval SK joint venture. In December, SK On announced building another battery plant in Georgia together with Hyundai. So there is no shortage of potential uses for the anode materials.

“This agreement is meaningful in increasing the possibility of securing eco-friendly and high-performance anode active materials for use in SK On’s US plants,” said Sun Heeyoung, SK On Vice President in charge of advanced research. “SK On will continue to work to develop anode materials that can maximise battery performance.”

“Working with such a renowned battery manufacturer means that we can accelerate our production efforts and more effectively address the supply of graphite,” said Nico Cuevas, CEO of Urbix. “By utilising Urbix’s innovative technologies, we can shift more of the refinement and production of battery-grade graphite to the US, a mission we remain committed to.”

Additional reporting by Sebastian Schaal.


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