MRC -- South Korean chemical firm LG Chem has teamed up with GS Caltex, a major refiner in South Korea, to develop mass-production technologies of 3-hydroxypropionic acid, which is a biodegradable plastic material produced through a microorganism fermenting process of bio-materials such as glucose and unrefined glycerol derived from vegetable oil, said Plasticsandrubberasia.
3-hydroxypropionic acid (3HP) is drawing attention as a next-generation platform chemical that can be used as raw materials for a variety of materials including biodegradable plastic and super absorbent polymers used in diapers, paints, adhesives and glues, coating materials, and carbon fiber.
LG Chem used 3HP fermenting technologies to develop poly lactate 3-hydroxypropionate (PLH), a biodegradable material that can configure mechanical properties equivalent to synthetic resins. The goal is to produce a prototype by 2023.
"In this current period where carbon neutrality has become a global mega-trend, the fact that a company leading the oil refining industry and another leading the chemical industry is cooperating for the development and commercialisation of sustainable new materials has great meaning," LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-cheol said recently.
LG Chem’s fermented production technology will be combined with GS Caltex’s process facility technologies. This will accelerate entry into biodegradable materials and bio-plastic markets through the production of a 3HP prototype from 2023.
"As microplastics have become a serious environmental issue, products that quickly decompose in the natural ecosystem will be able to create sustainable value in that it will eco-friendly consumption,” said GS Caltex President Hur Sae-hong.
South Korea nurtures the white biotechnology industry that focuses on the creation and distribution of biodegradable bioplastics. White biotechnology is an area of science that is devoted to using living cells collected from yeast, moulds, microorganisms and plants, and enzymes to create products that can be easily degraded.
LG Chem is also the first company in South Korea to develop lactic acid and biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA). It also recently tied up with US-based grain company Archer Daniels Midland to set up a PLA facility in the US.
We remind, private Russian oil producer Lukoil will lend Azeri state oil firm Socar $1.5 B as part of a broader deal that will allow Socar's 200,000-barrel-per-day Turkish STAR refinery to process Russian crude again. The deal will give Lukoil another customer in close proximity to Russian ports after most European refiners stopped importing its crude to comply with European Union sanctions imposed after Moscow launched what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine in 2022.