News | March 5, 2024

SK Chemicals, Hyosung Advanced Materials, And Hankook Tire Commercialize South Korea's First Chemically Recycled PET Tire

  • Establishing a circular economy that extends from recycled PET to high-strength tire cords and electric vehicle-exclusive tires
  • Leading the global tire industry's sustainable management by commercializing products with 45% eco-friendly certified materials

Seongnam /PRNewswire/ - To reduce carbon emissions, the South Korean industrial sector has developed and commercialized the country's first tire using chemically recycled PET.

SK chemicals (CEO Ahn Jae-hyun), Hyosung Advanced Materials Co., Ltd. (CEO Cho Yong-soo), and Hankook Tire & Technology Co., Ltd. (CEO Lee Soo-il, hereafter Hankook Tire) announced on the 5th that they have successfully developed the electric vehicle-exclusive tire "iON" applying "circular recycled PET (polyester) fiber tire cords." Circular recycling is an exclusive chemical recycling technology of SK chemicals that breaks down discarded plastics through chemical reactions into molecular units and then uses these raw materials to produce recycled plastics.

Before the commercialization phase, there were instances where chemical recycling technology was applied to concept tires or prototypes, but the release of a tire product to the market using chemically recycled PET-based tire cords through to commercialization is a first in South Korea.

SK chemicals, Hyosung Advanced Materials, and Hankook Tire have collaboratively developed this tire over a period of about two years. SK chemicals has reliably supplied the circular recycled PET "SKYPET CR", and Hyosung Advanced Materials developed the high-strength recycled PET-based tire cords using this as a raw material. The developed tire cords were applied to Hankook Tire's premium electric vehicle tire brand, iON. The iON tire, with a 45% sustainable material content, has recently passed the stringent reliability verification by a European automotive manufacturer, securing final approval for use and being mounted as tires for new vehicles.

Tire cords are fiber reinforcement materials that help maintain the shape of the tire and withstand the load and impact applied during driving, enhancing the tire's durability, driving performance, and ride comfort.

Electric vehicles, especially, require lightweight and durable tire cord materials with high strength to support the weight exceeding 400 kg of batteries.

SK chemicals' "SKYPET CR" has the advantage of maintaining high-quality properties and safety even after infinite recycling, compared to the physical recycling method of washing discarded plastics or cutting them into flakes for reuse, and it can achieve properties equivalent to petrochemical-based materials.

This tire development is significant in the industry in that it represents a collaborative effort focused on "sustainability" between the chemical supplier providing raw materials, the material company processing such materials into fibers, and the manufacturer producing the finished product.

In the automotive industry, efforts are being made to find sustainable materials derived from recycled or bio-based resources in conjunction with the sustainability of fuel, including electric vehicles.

Hyosung Advanced Materials, leading the market trend with the highest market share worldwide for PET tire cords, reflects the needs of the finished vehicle industry by actively pursuing the expansion of recycled material applications. In 2022, they became the first in the tire cord industry to acquire an international eco-friendly certification, the "International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS," for their recycled polyester tire cord production process.

ISCC PLUS is an international certification system for sustainability and low-carbon products that aligns with the EU's Renewable Energy Directives (RED). Certification requires verification throughout the lifecycle, including raw materials, production processes, and distribution.

The iON model developed by Hankook Tire incorporates 45% sustainable materials, including bio-based, circular, and bio-circular polymers, bio-based silica along with Hyosung Advanced Materials' tire cords, and the model is the first tire to bear the ISCC PLUS certification logo.

Bonhee Ku, Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer at Hankook Tire, stated, "Hankook Tire is continuously conducting R&D to use 100% sustainable materials in all tires by 2050," and "We plan to lead the global tire industry's sustainable management by expanding the application of eco-friendly materials centered around the electric vehicle-exclusive tire, iON."

Taejung Lee, Vice President, Sales Director of Tire Reinforcement Materials PU at Hyosung Advanced Materials, said, "With the recent increase in social awareness regarding sustainability, domestic and international automotive companies are increasing their application of sustainable materials, and tire companies are also experiencing an increase in demand for eco-friendly products, acquiring ISCC PLUS certification. We plan to lead the eco-friendly product market through collaboration with domestic and international clients."

Hyunsuk Kim, the Head of the Business Development Division at SK chemicals, said, "This joint development is significant because it represents the achievement of collaboration towards building a circular economy connecting material producers, intermediate goods manufacturers, and final product production, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring the sustainability of materials and products," and "We will continue to expand the use of recycled materials and strengthen cooperation with brand owners and various industries to ensure that such cases continue to emerge across different industries."

Source: SK Chemicals

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