Kolon Industries invests in lithium metal anode company to diversify portfolio

By Lim Chang-won Posted : July 11, 2022, 11:12 Updated : July 11, 2022, 11:12

[Courtesy of Kolon ]

SEOUL -- Kolon Industries, a chemical and textile manufacturing company in South Korea, made a strategic investment in Neo Battery (NEVA), a domestic startup specializing in lithium metal anodes, to diversify its business portfolio into important materials for secondary batteries.

Kolon Industries said it has become the second-largest shareholder of NEVA by investing about 10 billion won ($7.7 million). NEVA produces high-purity lithium metal ingot, chips, foil, or powder while recycling used lithium metal. 

Anodes play an important role inside a high-capacity battery. The more ions the anode can hold, the higher its energy capacity. Graphite anodes are widely used for lithium-ion batteries, but researchers have tried to find a better solution because structural deformation occurs in graphite when charging and discharging are repeated, leading to a shorter life of batteries.

Lithium metal batteries could run longer and hold more energy than lithium-ion batteries, which work by passing lithium ions between a graphite anode and a lithium cobalt oxide cathode. Due to their large specific capacity and the lowest reduction potential of metallic lithium, researchers have tried to develop high-energy-density lithium metal batteries.

"This investment aims to dominate the next-generation material market," Kolon Industries CEO Jang Hee-goo said in a statement on July 11. "In addition to secondary batteries, we plan to continue investing in next-generation future growth engines." As a strategic investor, Kolon Industries would actively support NEVA's R&D, IP-related know-how, and mass-production.

South Korean battery makers have tried to develop premium batteries. In October 2021, the state-run Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) transferred technology to Daejoo Electronic Materials for the mass production of sulfide-based solid electrolytes for all-solid-state batteries at low prices. The company would develop various silicon materials that can replace lithium metal anodes for solid-state batteries.

All-solid-state batteries are seen as a next-generation power source for electric vehicles as solid electrolytes are nonflammable and more stable. They can have a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries.c Solid-state batteries enable faster charging, higher voltage and longer cycle life. However, challenges to widespread adoption include energy and power density, durability, material costs, sensitivity and stability.
기사 이미지 확대 보기