The company's self-confidence is based on the prediction that strict environmental regulations would spur demands for environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), a trendy corporate operation method that focuses on the use of green energy and environmentally-friendly management.
"There are a lot of inquiries from companies in many countries about technology cooperation," Catack-H CEO Jeong Jin-ho said in an interview with Aju Business Daily. "This is because eco-friendly regulations have been strengthened in major export markets such as Europe and China, making it a major topic to recycle product materials."
Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) is a strong and light plastic that uses carbon fiber as the primary structural component. CFRP is non-biodegradable and negatively impacts the environment due to either hazardous gases emitted during incineration or landfilling. CFRPs can be milled or shredded at low temperatures to reclaim carbon fiber, but this process causes recycled materials to be weaker.
Jeong used an eco-friendly technology to recycle CFRP materials through a water-based chemical decomposition method capable of producing high-quality recycled fiber and epoxy resin. Catack-H's production technology is about one-tenth of the cost when processing the same amount through conventional thermal incineration.
"Catack-H has the technology to produce the world's most efficient and eco-friendly high-quality r-CF by chemical decomposition using water," Jeong said, adding Catack-H's technology recovers more than 95 percent of recycled carbon fiber (r-CF) from CFRP scraps at low temperatures and atmospheric pressure.
With technology transfer from the state-run Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in 2017, Jeong has polished processing skills for mass-production at a plant in Hwaseong that can process 200 to 300 tons per year in 2019. A year later, a batch process line capable of processing 1,500 tons per year was added to the plant.
Catack-H maintains more than 95 percent of the original fiber, which is virtually the same as new ones, Jeong said, adding the immediate target of annual revenue is about 15 billion won ($13 million) just through recycling. He was confident that his company will be able to achieve a "quantum jump" in performance, citing the rapid expansion of ESG in global markets.
"It's relatively easy to attract investment with matchless technology," Jeong said. Discussions with foreign companies are underway on the possible establishment of overseas corporations and factories in the U.S., China, Europe and Australia.
Jeong will build a new plant in Jangsu County, about 210 kilometers (130 miles) south of Seoul, as an eco-friendly smart factory capable of producing applied products to meet the needs of global companies. "As early as 2024, we will secure a total of 6,000 tons of waste CFRP processing capacity, which is the world's largest level, to digest demands at home and abroad. Through this, we will become a market leader that grows upon the strength of eco-friendly and low costs."
(This story is based on an interview conducted by Aju Business Daily reporter Yoo Jin-hee)
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