SK Materials Invests in Battery-Enhancing Tech Company Group 14
SK Materials has invested $17 million in US-based startup Group14 Technologies.
The sum will go towards the development of advanced materials capable of reportedly enhancing the energy density of lithium-ion batteries by 50 percent.
The investment was made by SK Materials together with US-based venture capital firm OVP Venture Partners.
The SCC55 material. Image courtesy of Group14
Group14: Manufacturing Silicon-carbon Composite Material
According to their website, Group14 has been founded to “enable the electrification of everything” through the use of lithium-silicon battery technologies.
The company’s flagship material is a micronized and tunable silicon-carbon powder called SCC55 and designed to replace conventional graphite materials inside anodes.
In fact, the material has reportedly five times the capacity of conventional graphite for Lithium battery anodes and up to 50% more energy density.
SCC55’s hard carbon-based scaffolding allows silicon to exist in an amorphous, nano-sized, and carbon-encased form, which translates to performant first cycle efficiency and long life upon Li-ion battery cycling.
Based in Woodinville, Washington, Group14 was established in 2015 and has so far raised an overall $41.5 million in investments.
SK Materials: Innovating in the Global Material Industry
SK Materials, on the other hand, is a pioneer in the manufacturing of materials worldwide.
The company was founded in 1982, and currently owns a capital of roughly KRW 5 billion (approximately US$ 4.6 million). Based in Seoul, SK Materials employed 700 people as of December 2018. The firm manufactures a number of products for the IoT, big data, and autonomous car industries.
These include key components in semiconductors, display panels, and solar cells.
Now, the South Korean manufacturer intends to foster the development of innovative materials further with the recent investment in Group14.
"In our role as one of the world's largest global manufacturers, we are constantly searching for promising companies with patented breakthrough technologies to stay ahead of the demand," explained Lee Young Wook, CEO of SK materials.
"Group14's innovative battery material chemistry maximizes high-quality production at cost, and we are excited to invest in a strong team with an exceptional growth trajectory to meet increasing global demand for a wide range of powerful and flexible storage solutions."
Helping Research and Production of Battery-enhancing Technologies
From a technical standpoint, most Korean battery makers traditionally use graphite mixed with roughly five percent silicon for the manufacturing of anodes.
The addition of a limited amount of silicon can potentially make a battery more powerful, but silicon expands four times in volume when anodes are fully charged, causing explosion risks.
The particular carbon structure of SCC55 not only reduces these risks, but also the battery’s footprint itself. The capital will help Group 14 scale production to meet the increasing demand for its flagship product.
"The investment by industry leaders such as SK materials, a long-time strategic manufacturing giant, is strong validation that Group14's next-generation lithium-silicon battery material technology has the potential to redefine the capabilities of battery technology," said Group14 CEO Rick Luebbe, commenting on the news.
"The battery is at the cornerstone of everything from electronics to electric vehicles, and we look forward to continuing to push the boundaries of battery storage to enable the electrification of everything," he concluded.