SK On, the battery making subsidiary of SK Innovation, has formed a new research center that will focus on the development of next-generation batteries, TheElec has learned.
The new Emerging Energy Research Center is located inside its main research hub at Daejeon.
It is SK On’s first research center focusing solely on battery technology.
The new center groups the company’s research on silicon anode, high-nickel cathode, lithium metal and other new technology researches.
The first head of the lab has been named as executive vice president Choi Kyung-hwan, who joined SK On in July after previously working at Samsung Electronics.
SK On is planning to build a pilot production line within the center, which will start operations during the first half of 2022. The pilot line was designed for pouch batteries and will test lithium metal and solid-state batteries, sources said.
The South Korean battery maker had usually tested battery it plans to manufacture at its global facilities at its factory at Seosan, South Korea.
It does have a small pilot production line with a capacity of 1GWh near its battery factory at Changzhou, China, but the line is barely used, sources said.
SK On used equipment from Lead China for the pilot line from the recommendation of the local government, sources said.
But this was more for ‘show’ to appease local authorities, they added.
Meanwhile, the new research center at Daejeon is expected to deliver its first result sometime next year, which will be SK On’s first prismatic battery.
Some customers have already shown strong interest in purchasing the new battery, sources said.
The new research center will likely sync up its work with SK On’s Seosan factory, which will make prototypes designed at the center.
This will be in a similar vein to how rival LG Energy Solution tests it batteries at Daejeon, then pilot manufactures them at Ochang.