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Comment Sustainability

LG Chem to construct South Korea’s first supercritical pyrolysis plant for plastics recycling

By Mary Page Bailey |

LG Chem Ltd. (Seoul, South Korea) says that it will construct South Korea’s first and its own hydrothermal plastics recycle facility using supercritical water.

Supercritical water refers to a chemical recycling technology that converts mixed plastic streams into fossil-replacement oils and chemicals enabling plastic waste to be upgraded into new plastics and other products. Unlike technologies that apply heat directly to reactor, it suppresses the generation of chars during pyrolysis, thus there is no anticipated limit to continuous operation.

LG Chem will collaborate with UK-based Mura Technology (Mura) that has HydroPRT (Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Technology), a proprietary chemical recycling technology using supercritical water. LG Chem has become an investor in Mura and a licensee of the plastic recycling process to strengthen value chain in the chemical recycling sector. LG Chem has recently secured a contract of technology license and basic engineering package by KBR, a global licensing and engineering partner of Mura.

The annual production of LG Chem’s hydrothermal plastics recycle facility is expected up to 20,000 tons of liquid product. (Pyrolysis oil) Its productivity will be among the highest in the industry as more than 80% of the plastic waste can be converted into renewable oils that can replace fossil fuels. The remaining 20% of by-product gases can also be reused as energy source for operating the relevant facilities.

Once the recycle facility goes into full operation by the first quarter of 2024, LG Chem plans to review additional expansions considering verification of actual products and future market situations.

 

According to the industry, the global chemical recycling market is expected to grow at an annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 17% from 700,000 tons in 2020 to 3.3 million tons by 2030 in terms of pyrolysis oil that can be extracted from plastic wastes.

LG Chem is conducting R&D for the proprietary development of chemical recycling technologies, and it also plans to further extend cooperation with research institutes, SMEs, startups, etc. that possess relevant recycling technologies and raw materials in Korea.

 

“This is very significant milestone in that chemical recycling facilities will be internalized through cooperation with leading global companies in sustainable technologies to accelerate construction of a circular economy of plastic resources”, said Kug-lae Noh, the President of Petrochemicals Company of LG Chem.

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