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EV materials

SK, Group14 Technologies to build $726 mn battery material plant

The joint venture aims to produce silicon anode, a raw material for next-generation batteries, from 2022

By Sep 14, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

SK Materials headquarters
SK Materials headquarters

SK Materials Co., the industrial gas manufacturing affiliate of SK Group, said on Tuesday it is jointly investing 850 billion won ($726 million) with US startup Group14 Technologies Inc. to build a battery material plant in South Korea.

The joint venture, tentatively named SK Materials Group14, will launch by the end of this month with an aim to build a factory in Sangju, North Kyongsang Province.

SK Materials said it will hold a 75% stake in the JV, while the US battery material startup will own the remaining 25%.

SK plans to start commercial production of silicon anodes, a major component of electric vehicle batteries, at the factory sometime next year.

Of the 850 billion won investment, 550 billion won will be spent on building the plant, while 300 billion won will be used to build a facility that produces silane, a raw material for silicon anodes.

“SK Materials and the JV will continue to make an investment and develop related technology to grow into a leader in the global battery materials market,” said SK Materials Chief Executive Lee Young-wook.

Established in 2015, Group14 is specialized in anode materials, one of four core materials for secondary batteries along with cathode materials, separators and electrolytes.

The EV battery market is growing fast
The EV battery market is growing fast

LARGER CAPACITY WITH FASTER CHARGING SPEED

Its silicon-carbon composite material called SCC55 can increase energy density up to 50% and battery capacity by nearly five times compared to batteries using graphite anode materials. Batteries with silicon anodes also charge at a faster rate.

According to industry statistics, the global demand for silicon anodes is forecast to grow to 200,000 tons by 2030 from the current 10,000 tons.

SK Materials last year invested 14 billion won in Group14 and became the third-largest shareholder with a 10.3% stake.

Other shareholders of Group14 include German BASF, Japanese Showa Denko and Chinese battery maker Amperex Technology Limited (ATL).

SK Inc., the investment and holding company of SK Group, said last month it will absorb SK Materials in a corporate restructuring.

SK Group, Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, has been ramping up investment in the battery business to gain a greater share of the EV battery market.

Write to Jeong-Min Nam at peux@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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