Hyundai Oilbank promotes white bio business with non-food resources

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 11, 2022, 15:32 Updated : May 11, 2022, 15:32

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- Along with blue hydrogen as well as eco-friendly chemicals and materials, Hyundai Oilbank, a petroleum and refining company affiliated with South Korea's Hyundai shipbuilding group, will promote "white bio" as a new growth engine by utilizing non-food resources such as oil dregs, waste cooking oil, and fallen palm fruits as raw materials.

The bio Industry creates added value based on biotechnology by combining industrial technologies. Red bio refers to the bio business in medical and pharmaceutical fields. Green bio means the utilization of biotechnology in agriculture, forestry and fishery industries. 

White bio refers to replacing materials from the chemicals industry with renewables such as plants, microorganisms, and enzymes. The existing bio industry generally uses edible resources such as soybeans, corn, and farms, but advanced countries are strengthening regulations on the use of food materials due to side effects such as forest destruction.

Hyundai Oilbank will apply a supercritical method using high temperature and high-pressure conditions instead of catalysts. The method is environmentally friendly and cost-efficient because few harmful substances are generated, and pre-treatment processes are unnecessary.

The refiner will build a next-generation biodiesel manufacturing plant with an annual capacity of 130,000 tons at its base in Daesan, 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Seoul, by 2023, and convert some facilities in Daesan into the production of 500,000 tons of hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) by 2024.

HVO is based on the hydrocracking or hydrogenation of vegetable oil. Hydrocracking breaks big molecules into smaller ones using hydrogen while hydrogenation adds hydrogen to molecules. Such methods can be used to create substitutes for chemical feedstock. Diesel fuel created by hydrotreating is called green diesel.

Hyundai Oilbank will use HVO for the production of next-generation bio jet aircraft fuel and consider building a white biomanufacturing plant in South Korea or other countries such as Indonesia. The company would promote a bio-chemical business with by-products such as glycerin by 2026. 

In November 2021, Hyundai Oilbank partnered with Haldor Topsoe, a Danish company specializing in carbon reduction technologies, to push for the development of renewable synthetic fuels, known as e-fuels, which are carbon neutral and can allow vehicles, airplanes and ships to operate in a climate-friendly manner.

Hyundai Oilbank's goal is to build a white bio ecosystem of one million tons per year by 2030. "By 2030, we will increase the proportion of profits in new businesses such as white bio, blue hydrogen, and eco-friendly chemicals and materials to 70 percent," Hyundai Oilbank CEO Chu Young-min said in a statement on May 11. 

As part of a broad roadmap unveiled by its parent group to establish a hydrogen value chain by 2030, Hyundai Oilbank will produce blue hydrogen and use it for desulfurization facilities or sell it as fuel for vehicles and power generation. Blue hydrogen is produced by applying carbon capture and storage to reduce carbon emissions. 

In April 2022, Hyundai Oilbank joined hands with Samsung C&T, a trade, investment and construction arm of Samsung Group, to chemically recycle waste plastics and develop markets for eco-friendly chemical products. Chemical recycling breaks down and returns plastic to its pure, raw material form.

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