Korea has launched an ambitious new program to produce and recycle renewable biofuels. As part of its aggressive attempts to deal with climate change, Korea is taking a close look at programs across a wide variety of sectors to ensure sustainable growth that is eco-friendly in the economic, social, and environmental segments of Korea’s economy.

The lynchpin to this approach, which can be seen in a number of Korea’s larger metropolitan areas, is focused on an economic cooperation model designed to attack waste disposal challenges in regions with high-density populations and industries that create waste products. 

At the heart of the program is reorienting these regions to view waste as a product that can be recycled, and circulated, as an energy source. Called the “Recirculation Resource Certification System,” the program was established in 2018 to minimize the volume of waste while managing ways to reuse these waste products. 

The program has identified a variety of waste products, including wood, livestock manure, sewage residues, food waste, and industrial sludge for recycling. Much of these waste products were typically stored in land-fills or simply dumped into the ocean. Now, those waste products are being converted in a number of methods to be used as fertilizer and dried biofuels.  

Earlier this month, Kinava Co. and Korea East-West Power Co. announced the development of a new technology called Hybrid Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) that delivers energy resources at a cost that is one-third of conventional waste drying technologies. The collaboration between Kinava and the utility is also in the demonstration phase of more efficient methods of converting sewage sludge and wood waste products to biosolid fuel for the Dangjin Power Plant, one of the world’s largest coal plants. 

There is a growing interest by Korea’s utility companies to accelerate the recycling of waste products into energy uses, with support from the Korean government and investment capital. The same demand for reducing waste products is increasing in the United States as well, putting Korea’s HTC programs at the forefront of cutting-edge treatment processes that turn out high-energy compounds through an environmentally sustainable system.