Feature Story Clean Energy & Ocean Solutions

A Better Future with New Chemical Technologies

April 13, 2017
A Better Future with New Chemical Technologies Key visual image

The global chemical industry is shifting from general purpose products to high value-added products using technological innovations. Amidst this wave of change, Hanwha stands out for successfully developing two new technologies. Each technology has earned the New Excellent Technology (NET) certificate in December of 2016. The NET certification is a prestigious title given by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) to newly developed technologies. The recognitions effectively put Hanwha on the map as a technology powerhouse.

The research teams of Hanwha Chemical R&D Center have played a pivotal role in obtaining these certificates. They serve as the backbone of Hanwha’s efforts in laying the foundation for becoming a global leader in the chemicals market through the proprietary development of original technologies.

Increasing Value through the Latest in CPVC

The NET-certified CPVC manufacturing technology using PVC modification and high-efficiency neutralization drastically improves the productivity and workability of CPVC. An extensive range of plastic goods that we use daily are made of PVC. CPVC is PVC polymer infused with 10% more chlorine to make it highly resistant to heat, pressure, and corrosion. CPVC is widely used for their heat and chemical-resistant characteristics and is the best material for sprinkler piping, hot water pipes, and specialized pipes for industrial liquid handling.

CPVC manufacturing technology using PVC modification and high-efficiency neutralization
Increasing chlorine infusion by 10% Chlorine Chlorine Chlorine PVC CPVC Chlorine Improve CPVC’s Productivity Productivity Machinability Machinability
Hanwha Chemical R&D Center
Seon Jeong Jin, Principle Research Engineer

Q1. What was the behind Hanwha’s successful development of this proprietary technology?

A1. The key breakthrough in the development of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) was the discovery of the perfect base polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin for the process. My team has been working with PVC products for over 20 years and we leveraged our expertise to discover a resin that widens the PVC pore to accelerate chlorination and facilitate neutralization of the hydrochloric acid by-product. At the same time, we have also created a resin that maximizes the amount of extrusion. These advances in technology served as the basis for a successful CPVC process development.

Q2. How competitive is the CPVC manufacturing process developed by Hanwha Chemical?

A2. The process raises productivity by about 15%. It also introduces a new counteragent which improves the heat resistance and thermal stability of CPVC.

The Hanwha Chemical R&D Center’s principal research engineer Seon Jeong Jin is the leader of the CPVC project and he said, “The key to the successful development of the proprietary technology was our ability to apply chemical materials to extremely diverse applications. Our goal was to discover the base PVC resin suited for the CPVC development process. Based on our technical capability and the knowhow we accumulated over the past 20 years on PVC, we were able to develop a resin that accelerates chlorination and neutralization of by-products while maximizing the amount of extrusion. This discovery led to our breakthrough in CPVC manufacturing technology.”

Projected Growth in CPVC Demand (unit: tons)
200 thousand 2013 250 thousand 2015 300 thousand 2017 350 thousand 2019
* Source: Hanwha Chemical

The global demand for CPVC is increasing. Hanwha Chemical’s effective CPVC manufacturing technology will help the company meet the increasing global demand for CPVC. CPVC has 15% higher productivity compared to traditional methods.
Hanwha Chemical completed a CPVC production plant in Ulsan, Korea. This plant began production in March of this year and has the capacity to produce up to 30,000 tons of CPVC per year. And by adding the CPVC production line at the Ningbo plant in China, Hanwha Chemical plans to double this number to 60,000 tons per year by 2020.
The Hanwha Chemical research team has also launched a project to improve the quality of standard PVC by applying new CPVC technology to the PVC lines it currently operates. The team’s extensive research and development efforts are expected to be recognized as a model case-study to show the rest of the petrochemical industry on how to add value to general purpose products.

Why Some Experts Call Hybrid Metallocene the “Dream Catalyst”

Another new technology developed by Hanwha Chemical is MDPE/HDPE¹ gas-phase polymerization using high-activity metallocene hybrid catalyst. This is a gas-phase polyethylene (PE) production technology that takes advantage of the outstanding operational stability of MDPE/HDPE and is aimed at drastically improving the mechanical properties, chemical resistance, and machinability of the material relative to the existing PE manufacturing technology. The new technology enables the production of high value-added PE products which can remain in service for more than 50 years under high temperatures and pressures under different applications.
¹ MDPE (Midium Density Polyethylene) and HDPE(High Density Polyethylene) have outstanding properties in terms of strength, mechanical property,
  and machinability. The are used in the production of packing films, containers, pipes, and crates.
MDPE/HDPE gas-phase polymerization using high-activity metallocene
improves the properties of polyethylene :
Mechanical Property Mechanical Property
Chemical Resistance Chemical Resistance
Machinability Machinability
Metallocene Properties by Type
1st generation matallocene 2nd generation matallocene New high-activity metallocene

First-generation metallocene has high mechanical strength but poor machinability, whereas the second-generation of the substance has better machinability but lower strength.

The new high-activity metallocene represents a breakthrough, overcoming the shortcomings of both metallocene generations by being stronger mechanically and having great machinability. It is for this reason that the new metallocene is dubbed the “dream catalyst” or the “catalyst of the future.”

The Hanwha Chemical research team made a strategic move to focus on the development of metallocene for MDPE/HDPE in order to secure a competitive edge in the global market. Currently, 95 percent of metallocene is being used for making films that are widely adopted in food packaging and containers, and this innovative push resulted in the successful development of a totally new material demonstrating optimal strength and machinability.

Hanwha Chemical R&D Center
Sung Woo Lee, Principle Research Engineer

Q1. What is a hybrid metallocene catalyst system?

A1. The hybrid metallocene catalyst system uses next-generation high-activity metallocene catalyst technology to control the molecular structure of polyethylene (PE). This results in a wider distribution of molecular weight, introduces long chain branching and concentrates short chain branching on high molecular weighted PE. The process makes it possible to produce PE with dramatically improved shock resistance, flexural and compressive strength and machinability compared with commercialized products.

Q2. What are the chief merits of the hybrid metallocene catalyst system?

A2. This catalyst system enables production of new PE with drastically improved mechanical strength and machinability. This makes plastic products lighter and thinner, allowing the industry to increase cost competitiveness through higher productivity. Moreover, as the system does not require organic solvents, it lays the foundation for the development of new high-value-added products that are friendly to the environment.

Q3. How competitive is the hybrid metallocene catalyst system developed by Hanwha Chemical?

A3. While most of the petrochemical players are focusing on the development of metallocene for films, Hanwha Chemical is stepping up its efforts to develop technology that targets medium density polyethylene (MDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE), unexplored areas for metallocene. Furthermore, by securing gas-phase production lines operated by Hanwha Chemical, we are able to produce PE that is both more cost-competitive and eco-friendly compared to the competition.

“While most petrochemical companies focus on developing technology and expanding their market shares of metallocene for film production, we have been dedicating our efforts to the development of a technology targeting MDPE/HDPE, an unexplored area in the field of metallocene. Moreover, we leveraged the gas-phase PE production system already under operation by Hanwha’s petrochemicals division to secure a more cost-competitive and ecofriendly technology than the existing slurry production system of our competitors. We expect the hybrid metallocene method to boost the productivity of the plastics industry at large.”

And while continuing their work on these projects, research teams at the Hanwha Chemical R&D Center are increasing their efforts to advance Hanwha Chemical’s core competency by developing more cutting-edge technologies. In so doing, the company will not only join the global petrochemical industry shift to the manufacture of high value-added products, but also lead it.