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SK bolsters carbon capture technology

SK Innovation, SK IE Technology invest in gas-separating technology developer Airrane

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : May 8, 2023 - 15:11

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(From left) Kang Dong-soo, head of SK Innovation's portfolio divisional group; Ha Seong-yong, CEO of Airrane; and Lee Byoung-in, head of SK IE Technology's corporate strategy and business office, hold up the SK companies' agreement to invest in Airrane during a signing ceremony in Seoul on Monday. (SK Innovation) (From left) Kang Dong-soo, head of SK Innovation's portfolio divisional group; Ha Seong-yong, CEO of Airrane; and Lee Byoung-in, head of SK IE Technology's corporate strategy and business office, hold up the SK companies' agreement to invest in Airrane during a signing ceremony in Seoul on Monday. (SK Innovation)

SK Innovation and SK IE Technology announced Monday that the two companies will jointly invest in Airrane, a local firm specializing in membrane technology for gas separation, to strengthen their carbon reduction competitiveness.

SK IE Technology -- a subsidiary of SK Innovation, an energy and chemical company under South Korean conglomerate SK Group -- manufactures lithium-ion battery separators, or LiBS, for electric vehicles.

The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

Airrane has worked with original equipment manufacturers across the globe, including US Air Products, Japanese Asahi Glass Engineering and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, since its establishment in 2001. The Korean firm’s membrane technology can be used to separate gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and helium with high purity.

SK Innovation and SK IE Technology said they plan to combine Airrane’s gas-separating membrane technology with their LiBS manufacturing technology to take the lead in the worldwide efforts for developing carbon capture, utilization and storage, or CCUS, technology. Lotte Chemical has installed Airrane’s carbon-capturing membrane equipment at its plant, according to Airrane.

The SK companies said that Airrane’s gas-separating membrane technology is expected to offer an alternative solution to overcome the limitations of the current carbon-capturing technologies using liquefied or solid absorbents.

The membrane technology only requires small surfaces because a membrane module can capture carbon dioxide. They added that the membrane technology has the advantage of creating zero waste because it does not use any chemicals or water to separate the carbon dioxide.

According to Allied Market Research’s projection, the global CCUS market is expected to reach $7 billion by 2030 with a compound annual growth rate of 13.8 percent from 2021.

“Through the collaboration with Airrane, we expect to strengthen our competitiveness in the CCUS sector, which is absolutely necessary for the strategy of ‘Carbon to Green,’” said Kang Dong-soo, head of SK Innovation's portfolio divisional group. “On top of the membrane capture technology that SK Innovation and SK IE Technology are investing in, we are going to expand our CCUS competitiveness in the global market based on the capabilities of SK Innovation’s other subsidiaries such as SK Energy’s utilization technology and SK Earthon’s storage technology.”

An image of Airrane's gas-separating membrane equipment (Airrane) An image of Airrane's gas-separating membrane equipment (Airrane)