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POSCO Chemical announces agreement with Ultium cells LLC for the large-scale supply of artificial Graphite Anode materials for further expansion of EV battery cell production

POSCO Chemical will supply US$688.6 million worth of artificial graphite

by The Business Pinnacle
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POSCO Chemical – the world’s largest and best-of-the-industry production base

 POSCO Chemical announced a binding agreement with Ultium Cells LLC for a large-scale supply of artificial graphite anode material to support further expansion of EV battery cell manufacture in the United States.

The six-year, KRW 939.3 billion agreement requires artificial graphite anode materials produced at the Pohang plant to be supplied to Ultium Cells, a battery joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution.

Global market share

As an anode material provider to the US market, POSCO Chemical will enhance its global market share, which currently remains at 11% as the fourth largest anode producer in the world, and further, bolster its market position.

Accordingly, POSCO Chemical discovered ways to advance and mass-produce anodes with low-volume expansion by expending natural graphite as the raw material to reduce cost, while applying a better-quality process that verges expansion to secure a fast-charging speed and extended battery life on par with artificial graphite.

POSCO Chemical intends to use these anodes with low-volume expansion to move into the EV battery market in full control, an industry that is growing at a tremendous rate. The anode materials are to be produced at the Sejong plant, which is currently being expanded in phases, and the company will increase supply to other battery makers in Korea and abroad including Ultium Cells.

In a broad sense, natural graphite anodes have a structure that is shaped like multiple layers of plates, which is significant for storing a large amount of energy. Nevertheless, when you recharge it continually, the original structure is altered due to expansion, therefore reducing the lifecycle of the battery. In lieu, artificial graphite anodes are produced at a high temperature, making them highly balanced. The isotropic structure in which spherical particles are uniformly arranged makes lithium ions move quicker, increasing charging efficiency but boosting cost due to raw materials and processing applied.

Traditionally most of this material has been coined in China while POSCO Chemical has localized production at its Pohang plant with an annual capacity of 8,000 tonnes in 2021. Ever since 2011, POSCO Chemical has been producing natural graphite anode material only in Korea.

Internalization of the entire value chain

POSCO Chemical has internalized the entire value chain from raw materials to final production by sourcing needle coke, a raw material, from PMC Tech, a carbon material subsidiary. In addition, manufacturing costs were reduced by utilizing self-developed manufacturing technology, quality control, and smart factory processes.

Earlier this year, Ultium Cells LLC launched battery cell production in Warren, Ohio to support GM’s rapidly expanding portfolio of electric vehicles. A second U.S. battery cell plant will unveil in 2023 in Tennessee, and construction of a third is ongoing in Michigan.

Cathode production capacity

POSCO Chemical, which now owns the world’s largest and best-of-the-industry production base, expects to accelerate its expansion of global centers in North America, Europe, and China by responding more rapidly and flexibly to potential market changes and customer requirements. The Gwangyang plant is anticipated to act as an exemplar as the business seeks to expand its cathode production capacity both at home and abroad to 340,000 tons in 2025 and 610,000 tons in 2030, based on which the company seeks to develop as a major-league battery material company with extensive R&D and an unparalleled product group.

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