In a remarkable leap forward for sustainable technology, LG Chem and GS Caltex have joined forces to advance the commercialization of the world’s first 3HP, hydroxypropionic acid, an essential raw material for eco-friendly biodegradable plastics. This collaborative effort is poised to revolutionize various industries, offering a greener alternative to traditional petrochemical-based materials.
The two firms previously entered into a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) in 2021, which resulted in the building of a 3HP testing plant at the GS Caltex Yeosu Plant in July of that year. This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) builds on that JDA.
With this, the newly completed plant prepares the ground for prototype manufacturing, which is expected to start in the first quarter of 2024. The GS Caltex CEO Heo Seo-hong and the LG Chem CEO Hak Cheol Shin both attended the signing event, which was held at the LG Chem Magok R&D Campus.
Hak Cheol Shin, LG Chem’s CEO, said the firm will continue to be the industry leader in eco-friendly technology to achieve a net-zero environment by the year 2050. In his words:
3HP: An Eco-friendly Biomaterial
3HP is marketed as an environmentally beneficial product because it is made by the microbial fermentation of ingredients sourced from plants. The plastics made from 3HP exhibit exceptional biodegradability and flexibility, making them potential substitutes for numerous disposable items.
Additionally, 3HP may be converted into bio-acrylic acid, making it a platform chemical of the future generation with uses in a variety of materials, such as carbon fiber, paints, adhesives, and super absorbent polymers (SAP) used in diapers.
Although there have been efforts made all around the world to create 3HP-related technologies, none have yet been made available for purchase. As a result, it is believed that the manufacture of the firm’s prototype will mark the first commercialization of 3HP ever.
Commercializing 3HP for Sustainable Technology
The collaboration between LG Chem and GS Caltex is made feasible through the integration of GS Caltex’s refining technology and process scale-up capabilities with LG Chem’s 3HP fermentation platform technologies, spanning lab bench, pilot plant, and commercialization stages.
By signing the MOU, the two businesses have agreed to evaluate the 3HP project model and their respective businesses as a whole. They also intend to engage in thorough discussions covering a wide range of potential areas of cooperation, such as investigating the possibility of forming a joint venture and examining projects involving biodegradable materials while taking into account the diverse bioplastic market conditions.
On his part, Heo Se-hong, GS Caltex’s CEO, pointed out that by promoting a circular economy and lowering carbon emissions, they hope to increase ESG capacities.