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[Guest Report] LG Chem is at the forefront of material science

LG Chem’s carbon nanotube plant in Yeosu, South Jeolla, is the world’s largest.
Oct 24,2017
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LG Chem’s carbon nanotube plant in Yeosu, South Jeolla, is the world’s largest. [LG CHEM]
LG Chem is thoroughly prepared for the fourth industrial revolution, with investment in diverse fields such as basic materials, batteries, electronics and biotechnology. The company plans to spend 2.76 trillion won ($2.4 billion) this year to gain a competitive edge in its existing businesses and enter new industries.

The capital expenditure is 40 percent more than last year’s 1.98 trillion won, and with the investment, LG Chem plans to grow its research and development and enhance its business structure to become a top five global chemical company by 2025.



Basic materials

In the field of basic materials, LG Chem hopes to gain global competitiveness by focusing on high-value-added industries. Specifically, the company is banking on complex materials like elastomers, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, engineering plastics, superabsorbent polymers and carbon nanotubes to expand its customer base worldwide.

In particular, LG Chem plans to increase its output of elastomers, a synthetic resin with the characteristics of both rubber and plastic, to 290,000 tons next year, with the aim of becoming one of the world’s top three producers. LG Chem’s possesses metallocene catalyst and process technology, a core technology in the production of elastomers, and its world-class products have been highly evaluated.

In January, LG Chem opened the world’s biggest carbon nanotube plant in Yeosu, South Jeolla. It has the capacity to produce 400 tons annually.

LG Chem is also expanding sales of materials for energy systems. It plans to start operating a factory by the end of next year and build more facilities in 2019.



Batteries

LG Chem aims to be the world’s indisputable leader in electric car batteries and obtain a competitive advantage in price, performance and safety through prudent investment in research and development. The company plans to aggressively target the market for energy storage system batteries by producing top-notch products with unique performance and cost competitiveness.

In consumer batteries, LG Chem is expanding into new markets and continues to make high-quality, innovative products. Through aggressive investment, the company aims to provide a “state-of-the-art energy storage system with a long lifespan and top-notch quality.”



Electronics

After successfully commercializing its LCD polarizer, LG Chem has been building competitiveness by constantly exploring new product areas, including water treatment plant filters.

To solidify its place as the world’s best producer of LCD polarizers, the company has expanded its assembly line in China, increasing annual capacity by more than 30 percent.

The company’s water treatment plant filter business has grown ever since a massive supply contract was signed with Oman in June 2016. Initiatives to produce filters for household and industrial use are also taking place with the construction of a second production line in Cheongju, North Chungcheong.

Most recently, LG Chem was chosen to supply water treatment filters to a seawater desalination plant in Egypt.



Biotechnology

In medicine, LG Chem’s focus has been on market-leading production of biologic drugs and vaccines. Full-scale development in the future will be driven by foreign markets.

With Korea’s first non-insulin-based diabetes treatment Zemiglo at the forefront, LG Chem hopes to produce more diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia treatments to become the domestic market leader in the field of metabolic diseases, with the eventual goal of foreign expansion.

The company is conducting clinical trials at home and abroad for life-saving diplococcus pneumoniae and hexavaccines to eventually bid for clients like Unicef and Pan American Health Organization.

To become a sustainable company that is unaffected by external factors, LG Chem is focusing on energy, water and biotechnology, industries considered to generate growth in the future. The company will invest a record 1 trillion won in research and development this year and plans to expand investment by 10 percent every year.

BY YEE JAE-EUN [yee.jaeeun@joongang.co.kr]