SK On, Urbix agree on graphite development contract

South Korean battery maker SK On Company said it has signed an agreement with US-based Urbix to jointly develop natural graphite anode materials for its electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Founded in 2014 in Mesa, Arizona, Urbix specializes in processing natural graphite with green technology. The Company is close to commissioning a facility with an initial graphite processing capacity of 1,000 tons per year and plans to expand this to over 28,000 tons by 2025.

SK On said the move could help it gain a foothold in the US anode material supply chain following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The two companies have agreed to work together over an initial two-year period to develop anode materials specifically tailored for SK On’s proprietary EV batteries.

Along with cathodes, electrolytes and separators, anodes are one of the four main components of lithium-ion batteries. You determine battery life, charging speed and energy density. Graphite is currently the dominant anode material in commercial lithium-ion batteries.

SK On said it would consider sourcing anode materials from Urbix for its US electric vehicle battery manufacturing operations if they could develop custom anode products. The company built a number of electric vehicle battery plants in the US independently and with automakers such as Ford and Hyundai.

Sun Heeyoung, SK On’s Vice President of Advanced Research, said, “This agreement makes sense to increase the ability to secure environmentally friendly and high-performance anode active materials for use in our US facilities. We will continue to work on developing anode materials that can maximize battery performance.”

Nico Cuevas, CEO of Urbix added: “Working with such a reputable battery manufacturer means we can accelerate our production efforts and address graphite supply more effectively. By utilizing our innovative technology, we are able to offload more of the refining and production of battery-grade graphite to the United States, a mission we remain committed to.”


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