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LG Chem partners with Italian state energy company to establish hydrotreated vegetable oil joint venture

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : January 19, 2024, 17:28 Updated : January 21, 2024, 02:06
Courtesy of LG Chem
[Courtesy of LG Chem]

SEOUL -- LG Chem, the chemical unit of LG Group, partnered with Enilive, a state-run energy company in Italy, to set up a joint venture targeting the hydrotreated vegetable oil market. The biofuel with an extremely low freezing point can be used as aviation and automobile fuel.

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is made through either hydrocracking or hydrogenation of vegetable oil. Hydrocracking dismantles large molecules into smaller ones, while hydrogeneration is the process of adding hydrogen to the molecules of vegetable oil. These methods are often utilized to create alternative sources for chemical feedstocks. Diesel fuel created by hydrotreating is called renewable diesel. 

LG Chem said the company agreed with Enilive to set up a joint venture for HVO business. The joint venture will construct a plant by 2026 in Daesan, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Seoul. The factory will produce around 300,000 tons of HVO annually. After signing a head of agreement (HOA) in February 2023 for the joint factory, the two sides carried out technical and economic feasibility tests.

HVO can also be used to produce of superabsorbent polymer (SAP), a raw material for diapers and many other hygiene products, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a common thermoplastic polymer for manufacturing household and consumer goods as well as medical and industrial products.

"This agreement holds significant meaning as it represents the collaboration and joint effort of global leading companies towards the common goal of 'Net Zero,'" LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-cheol said in a statement on January 19. According to LG Chem, global demand for HVO is projected to skyrocket to 40 million tons by 2030 from 9.7 million tons in 2021.

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