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SK On and KERI to collaborate on Li-ion battery safety technology and standards

Korea-based batterymaker SK On—the recently spun-off battery business of SK Innovation—and Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) signed an MOU to develop technology to maximize the safety of lithium-ion batteries and also to develop related standards.

KERI is a government-funded research institute under the Ministry of Science and ICT that conducts power machinery testing and certification and engages in a variety of electricity-related technologies R&D.

The MOU outlines the two organizations’ collaboration in creating technologies to produce more advanced batteries by conducting tests and research in the areas of battery performance, reliability, safety, and others.

SK On says that not a single fire accident has happened in the company’s 150 million battery cell deliveries to date, highlighting its safety performance. The company has secured 1,600 GWh of order backlogs—equivalent to around KRW 220 trillion (US$190 billion).

Both parties will first devise a new evaluation method to pin down which conditions are conducive to certain types of fires. For example, in order to analyze the fire caused by foreign substances in battery cells, it is necessary to study ignition conditions by assuming severe environments that can be applied to the actual service environment and figure out varying ignition conditions depending on the types and quantity of foreign substances. Test values derived from this method will then be used to build ‘super gap’ technology to prevent fires.

In collaboration with KERI, SK On intends to enhance the internal quality evaluation criteria well beyond what is currently required. The company will set stringent battery quality test requirements in view of actual events that may occur while driving an electric car, taking into account varied EV driving situations.

A standard thermal shock endurance test, for example, that assesses a battery’s tolerance to heat, would be transformed into a more sophisticated stress test by simultaneously adding external impact.

SK On hopes to create a distinct brand value that gives customers conviction to choose its products without hesitation or anxiety.

The two also agreed to work together to address future areas of improvement regarding international battery standards.

We will create an unrivaled super gap in terms of safety, allowing SK On batteries to be recognized as a new ‘measure of quality’ for customers looking for safe and outstanding electric vehicles, while also contributing to the development of the global battery industry and the growth of the electric vehicle industry.

—SK On CEO Jee Dong-seob

SK On began as the battery business division of SK Innovation and is based on the company’s accumulated battery research dating back to the early 1990s. Since 2017, when SK Inno started to expand its investment, the battery business has shown rapid growth with more than double the year-over-year growth rate.

SK On intends to make the most out of this spin-off to advance the company as a leading global company by 2030. According to the plan, its current global battery production capacity of 40GWh per year will be expanded to 85 GWh in 2023, 220 GWh in 2025, and more than 500 GWh in 2030. In addition, the company recently committed to increase the scale of investment in a joint venture with Ford from 60 GWh to 129 GWh.


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