SK Group makes strategic investment in U.S. waste-to-fuel specialist Fulcrum

By Lim Chang-won Posted : December 16, 2021, 14:31 Updated : December 16, 2021, 15:15

[Courtesy of SK Inc.]

SEOUL -- SK Inc., the strategic investment arm of South Korea's third-largest conglomerate SK Group, teamed up with a domestic private equity fund to jointly invest $50 million in Fulcrum Bioenergy, a U.S. waste-to-fuel specialist that converts household garbage into low-carbon transportation fuels, including jet fuel, diesel, and ethanol.

Fulcrum has built a commercial-scale facility that will convert household waste into sustainable aviation fuel, renewable diesel and renewable gasoline in Reno, Nevada. The investment comes on the heels of SK Inc.'s efforts to expand investments in green businesses and technologies to achieve its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

"Fulcrum’s novel process of biofuel production can make a meaningful contribution to tackling environmental challenges by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing landfill capacity shortages," SK Inc.'s executive vice president Kim Moo-hwan said in a statement on December 16.

Leveraging Fulcrum’s proprietary process which utilizes proven technologies and capabilities on a commercial scale, SK Inc. aims to make an inroad into the South Korean bioenergy market with SK Ecoplant, an engineering and construction unit of SK Group, as a potential partner. 

"Leveraging Fulcrum’s innovative process, SK Inc. will explorer further opportunities with one of its affiliates, SK Ecoplant, which has transformed into an environmental and energy solution provider, to identify opportunities in the domestic market and at the same time expand its presence in the global waste-to-fuel and bioenergy markets," said Kim. 

Despite the spread of electric vehicles, SK Inc. said the demand for biofuels is expected to grow steadily. Biofuel is a mixture of hydrocarbons derived from biomass which is made up of plant or algae material or animal waste. Biodiesel, one of the most commonly used kinds of biofuels, is normally made of hydrocarbon material extracted from biomass and diesel.

SK Inc. said it would enhance its environmental, social and governance (ESG) portfolio with its investment in Fulcrum, which is the first American company to produce biofuel on a commercial scale by chemically converting municipal solid waste into transportation fuels. Fulcrum's bio-jet fuel was approved and certified as an alternative drop-in fuel for the aviation sector. A drop-in fuel is a synthetic and completely interchangeable substitute for conventional petroleum-derived hydrocarbons. 
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