Urbix Inc, the US-based environmentally responsible graphite processor, has 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 industrialised 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 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.
The Urbix approach to graphite processing 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. Notably, it eliminates the use of hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid, and records yields of over 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.
Partnering with Urbix allows SK On to help fulfil its commitment to best practice ESG (environmental, social, governance) principles, consistent with its Carbon Net Zero roadmap.
Nico Cuevas, CEO Urbix Inc, says, “Working with such a renowned battery manufacturer means that we can accelerate our production efforts, and more effectively address the supply of graphite. 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.”
Heeyoung Sun, SK On Vice President in charge of advanced research, adds, “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. SK On will continue to work to develop anode materials that can maximise battery performance.”