SES goes public to propel development of hybrid Li-Metal batteries for EVs
Investment represents SK focus on advanced materials to drive clean-tech breakthroughs
SES, a strategic investment by SK Inc., took a major leap in its corporate evolution this week with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The move was a significant development in the fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) sector and put the spotlight on a strategy by SK Inc. to back the underlying technologies needed to create next-generation clean energy solutions.
A spinout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SES
has pioneered a new type of EV battery, known as a “Li-Metal battery,” that offers longer driving ranges and faster charges compared to today’s lithium-ion batteries. The SES technology uses an ultra-thin layer of lithium metal for the battery anode, enabling an energy dense battery that can store more power in less space. SES also uses a proprietary AI algorithm to optimize performance, safety and charging.
SES, formerly known as SolidEnergy Systems, has attracted investments from some of the world’s top automakers, including General Motors, Hyundai Motor Company and Honda, because its technology has the potential to make EVs a more attractive alternative to the gas-powered car. Consumers are more likely to buy an EV if they can go more miles on a charge and if the charging times are shorter – more like a quick fill-up at the gas station.
SK Inc., the strategic investment arm of South Korea’s SK Group, invested in SES starting in 2018 and was one of the company’s largest shareholders at IPO. SK Inc. backed SES as part of a focus to identify and support advanced materials that provide the foundation for environmentally friendly products and services.
In the EV battery space alone, SK Inc. has made several major investments in companies developing advanced materials – everything from the copper foil used in batteries to the charging stations for EVs. SK Siltron CSS, created after an acquisition in 2020, produces a silicon-carbide wafer that can help make EVs more energy efficient. The SK subsidiary announced last year it was expanding its Michigan operations to meet demand for the material. SK Inc. also took a major stake last year in SignetEV, a South Korea-based maker of EV charging solutions.
In addition to these investments by SK Inc., SK operating companies are playing a leading role in the future of transportation, including EV batteries. SK On, a spinoff of SK Innovation is one of the world’s top makers of EV batteries with a major manufacturing site in Georgia and planned sites in Tennessee and Kentucky through the BlueOvalSK joint venture with Ford Motor Co. SK IE Technology makes battery separators, a core technology of EV batteries, and SKC makes copper foil used in batteries.
SK Inc.’s goal is to continue pushing the boundaries on every aspect of the EV ecosystem, knowing that improvements in battery technology, including their ability to expand the range of EVs, will provide consumers a viable option for daily transportation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. SK believes that meeting that goal is a winning strategy for the planet and its own bottom line.