[BLT Insight]Plastic pyrolysis oil technology in Korea

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When thermally decomposed, waste plastic turns into petroleum. When discarded waste plastic is processed at temperatures of 300 to 500 degrees Celsius, it becomes a liquid oil, similar to conventional petroleum products. About 10 million tons of waste plastic are generated annually in Korea. Conventional methods of waste plastic treatment, such as shredding or recycling, have low recycling rates, and contaminated plastic is difficult to recycle. Especially now that ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has come to the forefront, there is increasing demand not only for waste plastic treatment but also for environmentally friendly utilization, drawing attention.


[Image] Production process of waste plastic thermal decomposition oil


The production of waste plastic thermal decomposition oil is a global trend. Among domestic companies, LG Chem and SK Geo Centric are leading the way. LG Chem plans to complete a factory for producing and processing thermal decomposition oil in 2024, while SK Geo Centric plans to do so in 2025. Additionally, discussions are underway with local governments to facilitate the smooth collection of waste plastic, the raw material for thermal decomposition oil. Moreover, companies like SABIC in the Netherlands, Eba-Ube in Japan, and BASF in Germany are also building plants and mass-producing waste plastic thermal decomposition oil.


[Image] Ceremony for LG Chem's waste plastic thermal decomposition oil production factory


Challenges from Korean startups are also active. ECOIN ENERGY Co., Ltd., a waste plastic thermal decomposition oil company led by CEO Lee In, has succeeded in raising investment (Pre-A, 2.2 billion won) by being recognized for its technological capabilities. The thermal decomposition device developed by ECOIN ENERGY Co., Ltd. differs from conventional equipment in that it is modular, allowing for mobility and installation in various sizes of spaces. In particular, it is expected to be installed in locations of interest to environmentally conscious large corporations and local governments to solve the problems of waste plastic disposal and resource recovery.


[Image] ECOIN ENERGY  Co., Ltd.'s waste plastic thermal decomposition oil processing module facility


Korean mid-sized companies like JinYoung Co., Ltd. are diversifying their businesses with the acquisition of Korea Eco Energy Co., Ltd., focusing on waste plastic thermal decomposition oil. Korea Eco Energy Co., Ltd. has completed the construction of two waste plastic decomposition oil facilities (1100 pyeong in size) in Yeongcheon. Additionally, through fundraising, they plan to build a total of 16 waste plastic thermal decomposition oil production facilities by 2026. JinYoung Co., Ltd. is expected to contribute to the stability of energy supply to local companies as well as create new businesses by supplying funds and investment to Korea Eco Energy Co., Ltd. in the region.

[Image] Waste plastic thermal decomposition oil facility built by Korea Eco Energy Co., Ltd.


The government is also increasing the utilization of waste plastic thermal decomposition oil for energy source diversification. The Ministry of Environment has announced the "Activation Plan for Waste Plastic Thermal Decomposition," aiming to increase the thermal decomposition ratio from 0.1% in 2020 to 10% by 2030. Various support policies for expanding thermal decomposition technology are being pursued.


[Image] Government's energy supply policy 'Forecast of facility capacity ratio in the 9th basic plan for power supply'


The BLT Research Center for Patent Corporation predicts, "The waste plastic decomposition oil market is expected to expand rapidly under government-led energy supply policy changes. It seems important for companies to formulate response strategies." They emphasized the necessity for securing rights through the development of waste plastic decomposition oil processing technology and new business models utilizing it.


As of 2024, BLT Patent Corporation, chosen by over 2,000 innovative startups, has been supporting companies' growth and success through IP acquisition and response strategy formulation, as well as utilizing IP for business support such as fundraising and technology-specific listings.


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