SK On executive emphasizes technology prowess, forward-looking vision in making of SF Battery
CES 2023 Best of Innovation honoree highlights both charging speed and battery life
LAS VEGAS -- When SK On received a request from a global automaker in 2018 to make an electric vehicle (EV) battery that can be charged within 18 minutes, the South Korean battery manufacturer did not hesitate to say “yes.”
It was the beginning of SF Battery (Super Fast Battery), which claimed the Best of Innovation honor in the “Embedded Technologies” category at this year’s CES, the world’s largest tech expo taking place in Las Vegas from January 5-8.
At the time of the request, 18 minute-charging was an unprecedented mark in the EV industry. While automakers were expecting quick charging times of 30 minutes, commercially available battery cells then only delivered a fast charge of 50 minutes. SK On, however, was confident that it could meet 18 minutes as the company had been running its own task force on fast charging solutions since 2016.
“The completion of EVs depends on traveling longer and charging faster,” said Park Ki-soo, SK On Vice President who heads the Cell Development 2 Unit. “SK On envisioned that future and was already taking steps to develop such solutions when there were growing needs for quickly charged batteries.”
The key to fast charging is about reducing anode resistance when lithium is inserted in case of charging. To achieve that goal, SK On applied its unique coating technique that dramatically lowers resistance and came up with a new battery material enhancing the charging speed. It also applied a manufacturing solution that minimizes the use of SBR, a type of adhesive that causes cell resistance in the coating process.
In addition to such efforts, SK On and its automaker client launched a consultative group in a move to find out whether the battery equipped with the fast charging technologies can ensure reliable performance and safety, according to Park.
“Trust was the driving force of the collaborative research,” Park said. “We were able to solve some important issues through the consultative group.”
Industry insiders said the success of SF Battery is meaningful as it overcame innate limitations of fast charging. Usually, when fast charging is made, it is known to shorten the battery life. For example, if a warranty standard on an EV battery is set at cycle life of 1,000 cycles, then that of fast charging is set at 400 cycles.
But with SF Battery, it can be set at 1,000 cycles even with the fast charging feature as the product is able to offer both faster charging speed and enhanced battery life. This achievement from the company’s rigorous testing, which was conducted about three times more than other products, according to Park.
SK On completed the development of SF Battery in 2019, three years after the launch of it task force and one year after the initiation of joint research. In 2021, an EV model equipped with SF Battery made the market debut and was named “Car of the Year” in various auto awards.
At SK Group’s CES 2023 booth, SF Battery was one of the popular exhibitions that drew people’s attention. SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, used CES 2023 to display more than 40 technologies from SK companies and partners that can help reduce carbon emissions.
Though SK On became the first South Korean EV battery maker to grab the CES Best of Innovation honor, it wants to go further. The company now aims to make batteries that can be fast charged within 10 minutes.
“It feels good to win the CES Best of Innovation honor, but at the same time, it also gives us a pressure to come with an upgraded battery,” Park said. “We will continue to strive for innovation and lead the global battery market.”
About SK On
SK On is a global leading electric vehicle (EV) battery developer, manufacturer, and solutions provider whose mission is to make our world a cleaner and more convenient place as an electrification linchpin.
SK On was launched as an independent company in October 2021 after SK Innovation, South Korea’s largest energy company, decided to split off its battery business unit. SK On aims to become a world leader in the clean energy industry by leveraging its global production base and R&D capabilities, as well as its production and quality management know-how.
Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, SK On has a worldwide presence with battery plants currently operating or in construction across the United States, Europe, and Asia.