In an effort to become a leading business in the rapidly growing bio-based plastic materials sector, LG Chem, a South Korean chemical firm, has joined forces with Gevo, an American renewable chemicals and advanced biofuel company. The two companies are collaborating to develop and deploy the ethanol-to-olefin (ETO) technology, a key process in commercialising biomaterial-based propylene.
Olefins are a category of chemicals which encompass ethylene and propylene – key substances in the manufacture of plastics such as polypropylene. Ethylene can be created using bioethanol sourced from vegetation, such as corn and sugar cane. Conversion procedures for creating ethylene from bioethanol have become commonplace in the global renewable materials production space, though the ETO approach is yet to be industrialized.
LG Chem said it inked an agreement with Gevo to work together to develop and implement the ETO method for bio-propylene. The South Korean chemical giant stated that it can supply clients with 100 percent bio propylene materials to use in creating automotive interior parts, diapers, and other plastic products. LG Chem mentioned that the manufacturing of bio propylene generates 90 percent less pollutants compared to traditional plastic manufacturing processes.
In accordance with statistics released by Nova Institute, an international market research company, 4.5 million tons of bioplastic will be produced globally by 2023. Worldwide production capacity is projected to increase at an average annual rate of 14 percent until 2027.
To drive its bioplastic ventures, LG Chem began construction on a 310-billion-won ($230 million) facility in the port city of Dangjin in the southwest. The facility will be equipped with a super-critical pyrolysis unit to break down plastic into oil and a manufacturing facility for LG Chem’s aerogel insulation product.
Image courtesy of LG Chem