SEOUL, Korea and ROSELLE, Illinois, USA (October 9, 2013) SK innovation, one of the world’s leading energy and petrochemical companies, and LanzaTech, a producer of low-carbon fuels and chemicals from waste gases, today announced an agreement to develop a new process technology for the production of 1,3 butadiene, a platform chemical used in many high growth industries globally. The collaboration will accelerate the commercialization of an alternative route to butadiene, a chemical increasing in scarcity because of the shale gas boom in the United States.
SK innovation has pioneered new refining and petrochemical technology development for many years. SK innovation will work with LanzaTech to develop and integrate this new technology with LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process, which converts industrial waste gases and on-purpose syngas derived from the gasification of wastes into low carbon fuels and chemicals.
An estimated $20 billion market, butadiene is a building block in a huge range of materials including synthetic rubber used in tires, belts, hoses, seals, carpet backing and medical latex; molded plastics used in consumer appliances such as vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances and electronic gadgets; nylon 6,6 used in textiles and engineering resins used in automotive engine components; and as a chemical intermediate for adhesives and speciality chemicals. The move to shale gas in the United States is driving butadiene scarcity and businesses are looking for alternative sources. At the same time, rising incomes in emerging markets are increasing demand for automotive purchases, tires, engine components and other consumer goods.
The development work will be carried out at SK innovation’s state of the art research centre in Dae Jon, Korea. The research campus hosts more than 1,500 scientists and engineers and has been in operation since 1995. The centre focuses on research and development of new technologies in energy, petrochemical, and materials industries. It works on a wide range of research areas such as eco-friendly, premium petroleum products, asphalts, lubricants, polymers, green energy and advanced batteries.
“Investment in science, technology and innovation has made Korea one of the world’s most dynamic industrial economies with Korean companies increasingly renowned for the quality of their research and development work,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “We are excited to work with SK innovation, which is a pioneer in new energy technologies. The partnership provides LanzaTech with an opportunity to expand and grow our green chemicals portfolio, taking another important step toward our vision of creating a diversified range of fuels and chemicals using waste gas as a resource.”
“As customer demand for green chemicals grows, we continue to seek innovative solutions to develop cost-competitive process technologies to serve important global markets,” said Dr. Byongsung Kwak, Chief Technology Officer, Global Technology, SK innovation. “We believe this collaboration provides a great opportunity to combine our expertise in R&D with the unique industrial waste gas fermentation technology LanzaTech has developed in order to to increase the supply of biobased butadiene globally.”