Korea-based SK Innovation is partnering with low-carbon
fuels producer LanzaTech to develop a new process technology
for the production of 1,3 butadiene, the companies announced on
The collaboration will accelerate the commercialization of an
alternative route to butadiene, a chemical increasing in
scarcity because of the shale gas boom in the US.
SK has pioneered new refining and petrochemical technology development
for many years. SK will work with LanzaTech to develop and
integrate this new technology with LanzaTech's gas
fermentation process, which converts industrial waste gases and
on-purpose syngas derived from the gasification of wastes into
low carbon fuels and chemicals.
An estimated $20 billion market, butadiene is a building
block in a huge range of materials including synthetic rubber
used in tires, belts, hoses, seals, carpet backing and medical
latex; molded plastics used in consumer appliances such as
vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances and electronic gadgets;
nylon 6,6 used in textiles and engineering resins used in
automotive engine components; and as a chemical intermediate
for adhesives and speciality chemicals.
The move to shale gas in the US is driving butadiene scarcity
and businesses are looking for alternative sources. At the same
time, rising incomes in emerging markets are increasing demand
for automotive purchases, tires, engine components and other
"As customer demand for green chemicals grows, we continue to
seek innovative solutions to develop cost-competitive process
technologies to serve important global markets," said Dr.
Byongsung Kwak, chief technology officer for SK
"We believe this collaboration provides a great opportunity to
combine our expertise in R&D with the unique industrial
waste gas fermentation technology LanzaTech has developed in
order to increase the supply of biobased butadiene globally,"
The development work will be carried out at SK Innovation's
state of the art research center in Dae Jon, Korea. The
research campus hosts more than 1,500 scientists and engineers
and has been in operation since 1995.
The center focuses on research and development of new
technologies in energy, petrochemical, and materials
industries. It works on a wide range of research areas such as
eco-friendly, premium petroleum products, asphalts, lubricants,
polymers, green energy and advanced batteries.
"Investment in science, technology and innovation has made
Korea one of the world's most dynamic industrial economies with
Korean companies increasingly renowned for the quality of their
research and development work," said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of
"We are excited to work with SK innovation, which is a pioneer
in new energy technologies," she added. "The partnership
provides LanzaTech with an opportunity to expand and grow our
green chemicals portfolio, taking another important step toward
our vision of creating a diversified range of fuels and
chemicals using waste gas as a resource."
LanzaTech says it aims to meet the increasing global demand
for affordable and sustainable fuels and chemicals while also
reducing overall emissions by recycling widely available
industrial waste resources.
LanzaTech uses a novel biological approach to transform
carbon-rich waste gases (from industrial sources like steel
mills and processing plants) or syngas generated from any
biomass resource (for example, municipal solid waste, organic
industrial waste or agricultural waste) into low carbon fuels