SK On, a leading electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, announced today it has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with U.S. graphite company Westwater Resources Inc. as part of efforts to strengthen its battery raw material supply chain in North America following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials tailored for SK On batteries. Should the project end with successful results, SK On will consider an option of sourcing Westwater’s anode materials for use at its battery manufacturing facilities in the U.S.
SK On currently operates two EV battery plants in Commerce, Georgia. The South Korean battery maker is also building three EV battery plants in the U.S. with Ford Motor Co. BlueOval SK, the joint venture between SK On and Ford, plans to operate two battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, and one factory in Stanton, Tennessee.
SK On recently agreed with Hyundai Motor Group to establish an EV battery plant in Bartow County, Georgia, through a joint venture.
Established in 1977, Westwater Resources is an energy technology company focused on developing U.S.-based battery-grade natural graphite anode materials. Headquartered in Centennial, Colorado, the company holds mineral rights to explore and potentially mine the Coosa Graphite Deposit that is located across 42,000 acres in Coosa County, Alabama.
Westwater is currently building a graphite processing plant in Kellyton, Alabama. The first phase of plant construction will produce 7,500 metric tons of refined graphite each year.
Anode is one of the four main components for lithium-ion batteries along with cathode, electrolyte and separator. It determines the battery life and charging speed. Currently, graphite is the dominating anode material in commercial lithium-ion batteries.
The latest U.S. partnership with Westwater paves the way for sourcing anode materials in North America in the future as part of SK On’s efforts to diversify its supply chain with the goal of taking advantage of provisions with the IRA.