By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korean battery maker SK On Co. said Thursday it has joined hands with a U.S. company to jointly develop natural graphite anode materials used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, in the latest move to diversify the supply of key battery components.
Under the joint development agreement recently signed with Urbix Inc., the two companies will work together to develop anode materials tailored for SK On batteries, SK On said.
Urbix, established in 2014, specializes in processing natural graphite for battery anodes with environmentally responsible solutions.
Anode is one of the key components for EV batteries that determines the battery life span, charging speed and energy density. The anode material stores the energy from the cathode, in charge of generating the power, and releases it. Graphite is the most widely used ingredient for anodes.
The collaboration will be for two years based on the contract, with the terms subject to an extension upon further discussions.
SK On said it will consider sourcing Urbix's anode materials for its U.S. battery manufacturing facilities upon the successful development of customized anode products.
Based in Arizona, Urbix is building its commercial scale plant to produce 1,000 tons a year, with a plan to expand the production capacity to 28,500 tons annually by 2025.
SK On, the battery-making arm under South Korea's SK Group, is seeking to broaden its supply chain for key battery materials as a way to reduce the dependency on China and respond to a new U.S. law requiring the battery content to consist of locally produced minerals.
SK On has clinched supply deals with Chile's SQM and two Australian companies for the sourcing of lithium.
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