SK Innovation is considering diversifying its cathode supply for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, TheElec has learned.
The South Korean energy company is has received samples of NCM811(nickel, cobalt and manganese in 8 to 1 to 1 ratio) cathode from Posco Chemical and are testing them, people familiar with the matter said.
Previously, EcoPro BM was the exclusive supplier NCM811 to SK Innovation.
Internally, SK Innovation have discussed the need to diversify its cathode supply.
The company is expanding its factories in the US, China and Hungary, which means it needs a steady supply of cathode to meet rising production capacity.
Belgium’s Umicore and Chinese companies BTR and Ronbay are attempting to supply cathode to SK Innovation.
However, EcoPro BM has a long contract with SK Innovation in place. EcoPro BM’s cathode has also proven to be high-quality and stable.
It will likely take awhile before other cathode suppliers can join SK Innovation’s cathode supply chain.
EcoPro BM is building its new factory CAM5-N, which is in effect a cathode production line dedicated to SK Innovation.
EcoPro BM was also preparing to produce NCMA(which adds aluminum) cathode, in case SK Innovation diversifies its suppliers.
If SK Innovation approves its samples, this will be a big boost for Posco Chemical as it will have another large buyer besides LG Energy Solution.
Posco Chemical is supplying NCM811 to LG Energy Solution’s circular batteries. It will supply NCMA cathode to Ultium Cells, the joint venture between LG and General Motors.
NCM811 is a crucial material used for high-performance EV batteries. It has high energy density which increases traveling distance per charge. It uses less cobalt, which is relatively more expensive than nickel, which saves costs. Cathode accounts for 40% of battery costs.
SK Innovation currently has a battery production capacity of 29.7GWh globally. It is aiming to reach 100GWh before 2025.