SK Materials, an affiliate of South Korean energy firm SK Innovation, will form a joint venture with US battery material startup Group14 Technologies.
The South Korean company will spend around 70 billion won for a substantial stake in the venture, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The joint venture will focus on silicon anode for lithium-ion batteries. It is looking to build facilities in South Korean and globally.
SK Materials have already spent around 14 billion won for a 10.3% stake in Group14 Technologies last year.
Anode, along with cathode, separator and electrolyte, is a core material used to make batteries. However, unlike other materials, there has been limited improvement in its performance.
This is because graphite used for anodes only has an energy density of 372mAh per gram. Adding in silicon by 5% increases this to over 500mAh. Adding in over 10% of silicon increases this to a further 1,000mAh.
Silicon anode can be categorized to oxide and nitride. South Korea’s Daejoo Electronics Materials, China’s BTR and Japan’s Hitachi Chemical focus on silicon oxide. Group14 also has technology in silicon oxide. Its SCC55 silicon anode allegedly has over 50% increased energy density compared to those that just use graphite, while capacity is five times higher.
Group14 was founded in 2015 at Seattle. Its other shareholders include China’s ATL, Germany’s BASF and Japan’s Showa Denko.
Meanwhile, in November, SK Materials also formed a joint venture with Japan’s JNC that focuses on display materials.
SK Material’s main business has so far been special gases used in semiconductor production.