LG opens 29,000 patents…raising USD 150 million venture fund

2015_02_LG innovation centerTo create the creative economy ecosystem in Chungcheongbuk-do, LG will open 29,000 patents and raise a venture fund to the tune of KRW150 billion. Also, LG affiliates, including LG Chem, will invest KRW1,600 billion over a 3-year period to invigorate the local creative economy.

The LG Group announced this plan at the launching ceremony for the Chungcheongbuk-do Creative Economy Innovation Center held at the Chungcheongbuk-do Knowledge Industry Promotion Agency in Ochang, Chungcheongbuk-do on February 4. President Park Geun-hye, Lee Si-jong governor of Chungcheongbuk-do, Koo Bon-moo chairman of LG and the CEOs of over 140 local small and medium-sized venture firms were present at this ceremony.

LG will install the ‘IP Support Zone’ which shares patents with local small and medium-sized venture firms. Here about 29,000 patents, including the 27,000 patents owned by LG and the 1,600 patents of 16 government-funded research institutions, will be opened for free or at minimal costs. Among them, 3,058 patents will be transferred to small and medium-sized venture firms free of charge. The patent areas include bio, beauty and energy, earmarked for the Chungcheongbuk-do area, as well as electronics, chemistry and communication.

For full article, see Korea IT News.

LG Chem to invest $1.5 billion this year

2015_01_LGSouth Korea’s top chemical firm LG Chem aims for resurgence with the aggressive investment plan for this year. According to the chemical company on Tuesday, it is planning to invest a total of 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion) in major businesses such as petrochemical, information and electronic materials and li-ion batteries this year. The amount of investment is an increase of 13.3 percent from last year’s 1.5 trillion won.

By sector, the company would invest 730 billion won in adding production lines, 300 billion won in research and development and 760 billion won in the existing businesses. If investment in fixed assets and separate personnel expenses are included, research & development investment would climb to a total of 610 billion won. The figure is up 20 billion won from last year. Eyes are on the aggressive investment plan by LG Chem especially as most chemical and oil refining companies are considering freezing or scaling back investment this year.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

SKKU develops world’s most efficient solar cell

Professor Seok Sang-il of Sungkyunkwan University
Professor Seok Sang-il of Sungkyunkwan University

A group of researchers have developed a next-generation, more economical perovskite-based solar battery, thereby creating the world’s most efficient solar cell. Led by Professor Seok Sang-il of Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), the team announced on January 9 that they have successfully developed a new perovskite solar cell technology. The newly developed solar cells are priced at one third the price of existing silicon solar cells and show an efficiency performance rate of 20.1 percent, equivalent to existing silicon solar cells.

This is now the most efficient solar cell officially recognized by the U.S.-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Currently, silicon solar cells account for about 90 percent of the solar cell market. Silicon solar cells are made from high-purity silicon. They are highly efficient at transforming solar energy into electric energy. Their weaknesses, however, is their complicated production process and expensive price.

For full article, see Korea.net.

New fuel key to future growth

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GS Caltex, the nation’s second-largest oil refiner, has been steadily investing in R&D to acquire new future growth engines. The petrochemical company is looking to expand its product portfolio from its current foothold in petroleum and petrochemicals. The Central Technology R&D Center, located in the Daedeok Research and Development Special Zone in Daejeon, is playing a core role in its innovation process.

Developing new chemical materials is one of GS Caltex’s main strategies. In particular, the company named carbon fiber as the newly-developed material that deserves the most attention. At four times lighter yet 10 times stronger than steel, carbon fiber is a next-generation material produced by carbonizing the thread form of “pitch,” a residue left over in the petrochemical production process.

Carbon fiber is widely used in the automobile and aerospace industries due to its low weight, high strength and outstanding elasticity. Moreover, high oil prices and demand for environmentally-friendly materials are prompting the use of carbon fiber instead of glass fiber in the fiber-reinforced plastic industry.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

LG to mass-produce flexible batteries

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LG Chem’s cable, stepped and curved batteries in an unveiling event in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of LG Chem

LG Chem said Tuesday that it’s been producing curved batteries since July this year at its plant in the Chinese city of Nanjing. “We’ve successfully developed batteries that haven’t existed before with our own patents, and that advancement is going to help us take the lead over our rivals in the race for next-generation digital devices,” said Kwon Young-soo, president of the company’s battery division.

The executive continued, “This is one of the greatest achievements for us. LG Chem will expand our leadership in small-sized batteries as well as continue our expansion in being the ongoing leader in car batteries and those for energy storage solutions.”

The firm said these curved batteries are already being used to power G2 smartphones manufactured by LG Electronics, the group’s consumer electronics affiliate. LG Electronics isn’t the only one that has shown interest in adopting curved batteries for upcoming flagship models as LG Chem is preparing to sell the products to other smartphone vendors, said a company spokesman Owen Sung.

For full article, see Korea Times.

KAIST team employs DNA engineering: Gasoline made from biomass

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A fermentation system developed at KAIST is used to produce short-chain alkane for gasoline from genetically engineered microorganisms.
/ Courtesy of KAIST

A team of researchers has developed a technology to extract gasoline from microorganisms fed with sugar through DNA modification, the science ministry announced Monday. It is the world’s first such feat.

The research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) engineered the gene in E.coli responsible for fatty acid metabolism so as to enable them to produce short-chain alkanes, saturated hydrocarbons that are a component of gasoline.

The technology of producing short-chain alkanes is considered a meaningful breakthrough because it serves as a platform for alternatives to various petrochemical products including surfactants and lubricants. The discovery was published by Nature magazine early morning Monday in Korean time.

The KAIST team has so far succeeded in producing 580 milligrams of gasoline from one liter of glucose culture solution per hour. However, this is too small for the technology to draw commercial interest from the petrochemical industry.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Korea’s new chemical regulation to undermine industrial competitiveness

2013_08_chemistrySouth Korea enacted new legislation that regulates registration and evaluation of chemical substances in May this year, raising the concern that the new law could undermine the nation’s industries that use chemicals, including the electronics, car, shipbuilding and steel sectors. The new law on regulation and evaluation of chemicals (RECH) was separated from the previous comprehensive chemical substance control legislation.

The RECH’s key departure from the prior law is that the new legislation does not permit exceptions in the registration of new chemicals. So far, companies have been exempt from registering chemicals if the substance is used in a quantity under 100 kilograms per year, or for research and development purposes. Most countries, including the US, Australia, Canada and Europe, have such exemption provisions in their regulations. As of now, Europe has the strictest chemical regulation named REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals – which allows companies to forgo the registration of chemicals if the substances are used in one ton or less amount.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Bio-based economy Seminar – 3 September, 2013, Seoul Plaza Hotel

Waste water to nurture algae, food waste to make plastics and algae to produce chemical building blocks. These are just some of the examples that the Netherlands is undertaking to turn agricultural and food waste and algae into high value product.

On September 3, a group of Dutch expert in the new field will be in Korea to present their ideas, knowledge and commercial products. On that day, there will be plenty of time to exchange ideas with them.

Below is a list of the Dutch organisations that  will visit Korea:

Biosolar Cells (Consortium for artificial photosynthesis)
Website: http://www.biosolarcells.nl/en/
Download 1: Consortium profile
Download 2: More background info

Control Union (Certification and inspection)
Website: http://www.controlunion.com/en

DeepArcticWater (Floating green house structure)
Website: http://www.deeparcticwater.com/
Download 1: Proposal for floating greenhouse structure
Download 2: DAW information

ECN (Energy Center Netherlands):
Website: http://www.ecn.nl/home/
Download 1: Company Profile
Download 2: ECN’s work on biomass
Download 3: Method to Measure Green Energy

NeDaHan (Agricultural consultant)

General information about this topic is available in English and Korean.

If you are interested to attend the seminar and meet one or more Dutch companies during or after the seminar, please register at: http://bit.ly/BBE-seminarAfter registration, you will be contacted to set up a time for the meeting.

SK Gas signs PDH process technology deal with Lummus

South Korea`s largest importer of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) SK Gas announced that it inked a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) process deal with the US-based petrochemical process technology patent holder Lummus Technology to introduce a PDH process technology. The PDH process technology involves key steps in the production of propylene using LPG including engineering, trial operation and construction-related services. Propylenen, a raw material which is used to produce auto components, electronic products and textiles, has been in high demand.

The deal will enable SK Gas to acquire PDH technology process, an achievement which came a month after the Korean company announced its entry into the PDH business at the end of January. SK Gas, after the design stage is completed, will begin the construction of PDH factory on a full scale.

SK Gas expects to cut down on its initial investments in the PDH business with the possession of the world’s largest LPG storage facilities in Ulsan and joint-use of docks and relevant facilities with partners.

For full article see Maeil Business.

LG Chem top in energy efficiency

LG Chem said Thursday that its naphtha cracking center (NCC) facilities were ranked first in energy efficiency in an evaluation by global market researcher Solomon Associates. LG came top among 115 NCC facilities of global firms in the U.S. firm’s recent analysis to find out which facilities are most-advanced in energy efficiency.

“The result means LG Chem’s NCC facilities are far advanced and more highly-qualified at a technology level and efficiency in operation,’’ said company spokesman C.S. Song.

For full artilce, see Korea Times.