SK joins hands with Monolith to produce clean hydrogen, carbon black products

2021.10.14 10:13:17 | 2021.10.14 10:13:38

[Photo provided by SK Group]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by SK Group]

South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate SK Group has joined hands with a U.S.-based hydrogen technology company Monolith to produce clean hydrogen and eco-friendly carbon black products in Korea as part of efforts to build a comprehensive hydrogen value chain by 2025.

SK Inc., investment arm of SK Group, said on Wednesday that it has agreed to set up a joint venture with Monolith, a U.S.-based leader in clean hydrogen production, to produce clean hydrogen and a solid carbon material, called carbon black, products in Korea.

Under memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies last month in California, Monolith will share its production and technology knowhow to produce hydrogen and carbon black products with SK. SK will be responsible for production, sales, and distribution. They are ironing out terms – investment size, equity structure, and mass production period – for a final contract for a joint venture with an aim to sign next year.

SK and Monolith, as joint partners in hydrogen business, will develop clean hydrogen as one of SK’s hydrogen production portfolio and promote carbon-free solid carbon business, said Jang Dong-hyun, chief executive of SK.

Monolith – founded in 2012 – runs the world’s first clean hydrogen mass production plant, which opened last year. It produces clean hydrogen on a commercial scale based on a proprietary methane pyrolysis process that separates natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon. The process does not produce carbon dioxide and there is no need to engage in carbon capture and storage process. Clean hydrogen can also be produced using less energy as to green hydrogen.

Solid carbon can be processed into carbon black, a core material of tires, mechanical rubber goods, and battery, said the company.

Under the agreement, SK and Monolith will carry out research to utilize Monolith’s solid carbon for the purpose of electric vehicle anode grade artificial graphite. Anode materials are an essential component that defines battery life. Main materials are synthetic graphite and natural graphite.

“Climate change is requiring markets around the world to dramatically transform their energy systems, and, in a broader sense, their value chain as a whole to reduce adverse impact on the environment,” said Kim Moo-hwan, executive vice president at SK. “SK plans to collaborate with Monolith to expand its technologies globally and support our goal of creating new models for clean energy.”

Rob Hanson, chief executive of Monolith, said “achieving a decarbonized planet will require global collaboration and multiple solutions. We are eager to continue our collaboration with SK in advancing clean, global-scale hydrogen production to achieve a green world.”

SK Group has been aggressively expanding environmentally-friendly clean hydrogen business. The conglomerate established a joint venture with U.S.-based hydrogen solutions provider Plug Power with a goal to secure 280,000 tons of clean hydrogen production system by 2025.

An unnamed government official said that hydrogen demand from transportation is expected to reach minimum 100,000 tons in 2025 and the power-use hydrogen market minimum 1 million tons.

Shares of SK were trading 0.95 percent higher at 266,500 won on Thursday morning.

By Park Yun-gu, Lee Chuk-bok, and Lee Eun-joo

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