POSCO announced Wednesday it has acquired control of U.S. graphene nanoplate manufacturer XG Sciences, boosting the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker’s bid to transform into an all-round materials developer.
Graphene is a transparent nano-carbon material that has electric conductivity and flexibility. It is widely used as an electrode in various industrial materials, energy and electronic devices.
Spun off from Michigan State University, XS Sciences is one of the world’s two companies that commercially produce the material along with Vorbeck Materials based in Maryland.
POSCO inked a deal to buy a 20-percent stake in the nanotech venture in Seoul, the steelmaker said in a statement, without giving details of value.
“The graphene business can create synergy with POSCO’s existing steel operations and ensure a stable supply to numerous key industries such as automobile, information and technology, and energy,” POSCO chief executive Chung Joon-yang said.
POSCO said it will be able to churn out graphene in Korea as early as 2012 after establishing facilities. The two firms agreed to share production technology and conduct joint research to scale up the business.
To accelerate the localization, POSCO said it will also cooperate Hanwha Chemical Corp., Korea’s leading petrochemical company, which acquired a 19-percent share in XG Sciences in January for $3 million.
The acquisition came as part of the steel group’s strategy to take off as a global materials developer in a few years.
POSCO expects to cut production expenses and secure price competitiveness as graphene can be made with coke or pitch, by-products of the steelmaking process.
In March, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy picked graphene as one of six next-generation technologies, in which it plans to invest 1.5 trillion won ($1.4 billion) over the next five to seven years.
By Shin Hyon-hee (email@example.com