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        Plastic made through Carbon Capture and Utilization? LG Chem commercializes DRM facility to achieve 2050 Net-Zero goal

        2023. 09. 07

        With the deepening of climate crisis, the whole world is putting utmost efforts into carbon neutrality. In 2022, LG Chem moved up the former 2050 carbon neutral growth initiative to 2030, and announced a new goal to achieve Net-Zero by 2050. Net-Zero is when the amount of carbon emitted on the Earth matches the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere, which means the actual carbon emission is ‘zero (0).’ To reduce carbon and accomplish 2050 Net-Zero, LG Chem is pushing forward the introduction of innovative process, transition to eco-friendly raw-materialㆍfuels, and extended use of renewable energy. Today, let’s take a look at Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU), a latest technology receiving attention, and ‘Dry Reforming of Methane (DRM),’ a carbon-reduction facility built by LG Chem for the first time in Korea that can contribute to a sustainable future.

        Saving the Earth with Carbon Capture and Utilization

        CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization)

        CCU, as the name signifies, is a technology that captures carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and utilizes it as a ‘resource.’ First introduced in the 1970s, this technology of capturing, storing, and utilizing carbon has made consistent advancements for around 50 years. Recently, it has arrived at a commercialization stage, and is gaining spotlight as a core technology to stop the worst climate change scenario.

        There are a number of reasons that CCU is receiving attention as a core technology for carbon neutrality. To defend the worst climate change scenario from happening through carbon neutrality, the initial step is to reduce the amount of carbon emitted on the Earth. However, the current industrial structure makes it extremely difficult for groundbreaking carbon reduction. Cutting down carbon calls for a grand-scale reformation of industrial structure with basis on low-carbon and eco-friendliness, but this cannot be done right away. In contrast, CCU captures carbon dioxide that has been already released into the air, and turns it into a resource, having an instant carbon reduction effect in terms of eco-friendly resource circulation. On top of that, CCU can be closely connected with renewable energy, thus is possible to expect a gradual reformation of industrial structure and further utilization of the technology.

        As we pursue growth centered on eco-friendliness and low-carbon, along with utilizing CCU in the overall industry, we are likely to achieve carbon neutrality earlier than scheduled. In fact, EU suggested in ‘2050 carbon neutrality scenario’ that we must reduce 2,200 million tons of carbon dioxide, including 300 million tons (14% of the total amount) to be dealt with CCU technology. Similarly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced ‘2070 global carbon neutrality scenario,’ estimating that CCU will contribute to 15% of the total carbon reduction.

        DRM, capture carbon dioxide to make plastic

        Carbon reduction DRM facility

        DRM is a type of CCU technology that captures carbon dioxide and its by-product gas, methane, emitted at factories to create plastic. By using the DRM facility, we can produce raw materials for plastic while reducing more than 50% of carbon emissions. In November 2022, LG Chem established a DRM facility and developed an essential catalyst for transition of carbon dioxide based on the company’s proprietary technology.

        LG Chem is the first domestic company to establish and commercialize DRM facility based on their proprietary technology. So far, DRM accompanied limits of commercialization due to rapid fall of catalyst performance when operating the facility. LG Chem developed a proprietary technology to complement such an  issue and reinforced the durability of catalyst greatly, opening the door to commercialization. LG Chem’s catalyst business department played a key role in reinforcing the durability of catalyst. Back in 2019, LG Chem had established a new department to take care of the company’s catalyst business and internalize the high-value-added catalyst production technology. Since then, the department not only developed the catalyst essential for production of eco-friendly POE and CNT, but also contributed to establishing DRM facility based on LG Chem’s proprietary technology.

        Daesan plant in, Korea

        In 2023, LG Chem constructed a 1,000 ton-scale of pilot plant in Daesan plant, Chung-cheong province, Korea to verify the DRM processing technology and catalyst, etc. developed through their proprietary technology. Furthermore, the company will continue to expand and utilize DRM, the innovative carbon-reduction facility, until 2026, to achieve 2050 Net-Zero.

        Despite being the core technology of carbon neutrality, CCU has higher technical difficulty and production cost than CCS (Carbon Capture Storage), which hinders companies’ active R&D and investments. Yet, LG Chem decided that CCU is inevitable for the humanity’s sustainable development, and carried out a long-term R&D and investments of CCU. Consequently, the company succeeded in developing DRM facility with their proprietary technology, which can produce raw materials for plastic while reducing more than half the amount of carbon emissions. LG Chem will keep up their commitment for the sustainable future with science that benefits our planet and the humanity.

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