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Renewable energy

Hyundai Oilbank to make naphtha from plastic waste

To supply eco-friendly naphtha to nearby petrochemical makers such as LG Chem, Lotte Chemical and Hanwha Total

By Nov 18, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai Oilbank’s Daesan complex in South Korea (Courtesy of Hyundai Oilbank)
Hyundai Oilbank’s Daesan complex in South Korea (Courtesy of Hyundai Oilbank)

Hyundai Oilbank Co. is set to produce naphtha by injecting plastic waste pyrolysis oil into the process of refining crude oil, poised to become the first South Korean refiner to produce the key petrochemical feedstock in such an eco-friendly method.

The refining unit of Hyundai Heavy Industries Group said it injected 100 tons of pyrolysis oil, or oil produced through the thermal decomposition of used plastics, from Nov. 18 as part of an empirical study. Hyundai Oilbank aims to gradually raise the input of pyrolysis oil after securing safety through the research.

The eco-friendly naphtha will be supplied to producers in Daesan, South Korea, where Hyundai Oilbank operates a refinery complex that can process 690,000 barrels of crude oil a day. LG Chem Ltd., Lotte Chemical Corp. and Hanwha Total Petrochemical run naphtha crackers to produce ethylene there.

Hyundai Oilbank has decided to use pyrolysis oil to make naphtha due to growing issues concerning the treatment of plastic waste.

China, the world’s largest garbage importer, announced a complete ban on solid waste imports from this year. Rules on plastic waste in the Basel Convention, which regulates the movement of hazardous waste between countries, have tightened since 2021. Each country has to handle its own plastic waste.

“Introduction of pyrolysis oil use is in line with ESG management practices,” said Hyundai Oilbank CEO Kang Dal-ho, referring to environmental, social and governance. “We will contribute to cutting carbon emissions and solving issues with domestic plastic waste."

Hyundai Oilbank is considering a new waste plastic pyrolysis oil plant with an annual capacity of 50,000 tons by utilizing its Delayed Coking Unit (DCU) that other local refiners do not have.

The company is taking measures to receive an official certificate for the use of pyrolysis oil to make naphtha as an eco-friendly production process from an international agency. With the certificate, it aims to sell the feedstock as an eco-friendly product called “green naphtha.”

South Korean companies are trying to use plastic trash as an energy source. Earlier this year, SK Group extracted oil from plastic waste and uses eco-friendly oil as a feedstock in the oil refining and petrochemical processes.

Write to Kyung-Min Kang at kkm1026@hankyung.com

Jongwoo Cheon edited this article.

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