Battery cell manufacturer SK On has teamed up with US graphite processor Urbix to develop anode materials for its batteries. The South Korean company is looking to secure its US supply chain with innovative materials. Should the partnership with Urbix prove successful, SK On may pave the way for establishing an anode supply chain in North America. Additionally, the Korean firm has expressed interest in securing subsidies under the US government’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which requires materials to be sourced primarily in the US for electric vehicles to be eligible for federal subsidies.
SK On has yet to reveal any technical details about the cells, but has stated that the goal is to develop “environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials customized for SK On batteries.” The focus appears to be on the environmental credibility that Urbix brings to the table, as the company is known for recycling 70% of chemicals without using hydrofluoric acid or hydrogen chloride in the refining process. With this partnership, SK On hopes to strengthen its position as a leading sustainable battery manufacturer.
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 Volkswagen for the US production of the ID.4 and Ford for the F-150 Lightning, among others. Three more battery factories, each with a capacity of 43 GWh, are currently under construction in Kentucky and Tennessee under the BlueOval SK joint venture. In December, SK On announced plans to build another battery plant in Georgia in partnership with Hyundai. With these developments, 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 maximize 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 utilizing 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.”