Feature Story Clean Energy & Ocean Solutions

Building a Foundation for the Green Revolution

June 13, 2017
Building a Foundation for the Green Revolution Key visual image

Sustainability, the Talk of the Petrochemical World

Petrochemicals and the need for them are all around. They are used to produce phones, clothing, housewares, paints, rubber toys, beverage bottles, computers and even the plastic bags we carry our grocery in. Petrochemicals have long enriched countless lives but are now also considered the main culprit behind the CO2 emissions that affect the global climate changes that in turn causes floods, droughts, extreme temperatures, and other abnormal climate changes around the globe. And as the global petrochemical industry in response, strives to shift towards more stable and sustainable next-generation products, Hanwha also seeks solutions. Hanwha is developing its next generation of technologies that will push the boundaries of the chemical industry.

Seeking Sustainability in Next-Generation Original Technologies

Hanwha has been interested addressing global environmental issues and that interest has led the company to develop environmentally friendly chemical products, materials, and processes. In line with its effort, Hanwha partnered with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), a distinguished research-oriented science and technology institution in Korea. Together, they established the KAIST-Hanwha Chemical Future Technology Research Center dedicated to finding sustainable energy sources. The center’s projects include the development of original technologies for next-generation chemicals and high-purity process technologies that can contribute to dramatic energy savings.

KAIST-Hanwha Chemical Future Technology Research Center
Sang Yup Lee, Head of the Research Center and Professor at KAIST

Q1. Please describe the Future Technology Institute.

A1. Well, KAIST is a world leading science and engineering university and Hanwha Chemical is one of the best petrochemical companies in the world. So obviously when these two institutions meet and collaborate, we can create something that is useful not only for the human being but the environment of our offspring. So what do you want to choose? Well, we chose the partners based on how we address the world pending problems such as climate change issues. And that’s how we met and we decided to establish this KAIST-Hanwha Chemical Future Technology Institute. Currently, 4 teams are working very hard to address these problems and hopefully, and we should, accomplish these goals.

Q2. What type of research is being conducted at the institute?

A2. Currently, the institute has a four main themes. I’m in charge of the bio-based production of chemicals from renewable biomass. Obviously we are talking about non-edible biomass because we do not want to compete with food. But there are a lot of biomass that are basically wasted, so we want to convert these raw materials into a sustainable raw material replacing fossil resources such as fossil oil and natural gas. Then, we will look for ways to use this process to produce those chemicals that are important in our everyday lives, such as precursors for polymers and etc. What we are trying to do here is, basically change the petrochemical-based chemical industry and move towards a bio-based sustainable chemical industry. And that’s what Hanwha Chemical wants and that’s what we think is important at KAIST. So I think these two meet very nicely and try to address all these problems.

The collaboration between Hanwha and KAIST advances academic research while taking new technologies to market. These state-of-the-art original technologies will be crucial to building a sustainable chemical industry capable of responding to the uncertainties of the future.

The Key Research Projects at KAIST-Hanwha Chemical Future Technology Research Center
  1. 01
    Biotechnology Research
    Using renewable inedible biomass
    to develop an ecofriendly bio process
  2. 02
    Material & Surface
    Modification Research
    Optimization of crosslinking process
    for super absorbent polymer surfaces
  3. 03
    Catalyst Research
    Development of efficient
    high-activity catalyst
  4. 04
    Process Research
    Development of efficient processes,
    products, and manufacturing systems

The KAIST-Hanwha Chemical Future Technology Research Center is currently involved in four research projects in the fields of biotechnology, material and surface modification, catalyst, process design and engineering.

These are key research projects that focus on developing technologies to enable production via ecofriendly and efficient processes that could soon be put to application. They will help Hanwha lead the chemical industry and move further away from oil dependency while enabling producers to reach greater efficiency and reduce more waste.

Where will the petrochemical industry be in a century? Will we be able to eliminate the Great Pacific Garbage patch in the North Pacific Ocean? The answer to the future of the petrochemical industry lies in sustainable chemical solutions. And the answer that Hanwha seeks will come from cutting-edge research and development of alternative sustainable solutions that will serve as the foundation for green chemistry.