LG Chem to Spend $95 Million on Water Treatment Business
A New RO Membrane Factory in South Korea to Double Capacity
Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes are used to remove salts and other pollutants from water and are crucial in wastewater treatment units. LG Chem has decided to invest the money in a factory in South Korea with an annual capacity of 400,000 RO membranes, capable of desalinating 1.6 billion tons of water a year. That would be enough for 16 million people, about a third of South Korea's population.
“We plan to significantly raise production capacity in Cheongju, the RO membrane production base, through additional investment, to actively target the industrial (water treatment) market following the seawater desalination sector,” commented LG Chem Vice Chairman and CEO Shin Hak-Cheol.
LG Chem's RO business is expected to generate sales of ₩200 billion (€139.5 million) this year. The new production complex in Cheongju, about 130 kilometers south of Seoul, will help double this figure by 2028. They also have sights on applications for the membranes outside of water treatment, namely lithium extraction and CO2 separation, both with expanding global markets.
LG Chem started its RO membrane business in 2014 by acquiring US manufacturer NanoH2O. Now they are the 2nd largest RO membrane producer worldwide.
LG Chem plans to build the new plant as a smart factory with artificial intelligence and an automated production process based on digital transformation. The AI is set to detect abnormalities in manufacturing lines and control quality, ramping up production speed by more than 25% compared to the existing facilities.
The company will operate all the RO membrane factories including the new one in Cheongju only with renewable energy by 2030.
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