US-based graphite processor Urbix (earlier post) announced a Joint Development Agreement with global EV battery developer and manufacturer SK On (SKO). The new strategic partnership will see the companies collaborate to develop industrialized anode materials that will be incorporated into SKO’s advanced lithium-ion batteries used in its US gigafactories.
For Urbix, the agreement accelerates its plans to establish a commercial US anode production facility that will produce 28,500 tons of anode products per annum by 2025. This is enough to power 350,000 high-performance EVs produced in the US.
For SKO, this agreement reinforces a local supply chain for battery anode materials in the US, helping customers take advantage of the provisions of the “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA). Headquartered in Seoul, SKO is a global Tier 1 cell-maker, with major battery plants operating and under construction across Asia, the US and Europe.
In the US, SKO has two battery manufacturing plants in Commerce, Georgia, with the second plant scheduled to be operational in 2023. BlueOval SK, a joint venture between SKO and US automaker Ford Motor Company, is building three battery manufacturing plants—one in Tennessee and two others in Kentucky. The three plants are expected to commence operation from 2025.
The IRA intends to aid investment in US domestic energy production and manufacturing, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions by roughly 40% before 2030. It imposes key restrictions on the eligibility for tax credits related to US manufacturing, including domestic content, and reflects a strong desire to enhance domestic mineral production and manufacturing capacity.
Urbix says its approach to producing high-quality CSPG (coated spherical purified graphite) for EVs is quicker, more efficient, and far less carbon-intensive than existing processes—using just 10% of the energy and 6% of the acid, in 7% of the time. It eliminates the use of hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid, and records yields of more than 70%—more than twice that of the industry standard. This unique Urbix method is agnostic to raw graphite source enabling a highly resilient EV anode supply chain.
The agreement with SK On means Urbix is now poised to play a crucial role in US-based battery manufacturing, aiding in the reduction of reliance on EV battery-grade graphite from China and adding diversity into the market.