LG Chem to invest KRW 125 billion in Cheongju RO membrane plant “Expansion to double the water treatment business within 5 years”
■ Expanding Cheongju RO membrane plant by 2025
□ 400,000 additional annual production of RO membranes enable water treatment for 16 million people
□ Expansion targets seawater desalination, industrial water, and wastewater reuse markets
□ RO membrane’s project revenue for this year reaches KRW 200 billion… aims to double within 5 years
■ Hak Cheol Shin, CEO of LG Chem,
“Additional investment in Cheongju, which serves as RO membrane production base, will significantly expand our production capacity and position us as a global leader in RO membrane.”
“This will contribute to resolving issues such as droughts and water scarcity due to global warming, providing the best water treatment solutions to customers around the world.”
LG Chem is initiating the expansion of its business by increasing the capacity of the Cheongju plant, a production base for reverse osmosis(RO) membranes.
On the 28th, the company announced that it will invest KRW 124.6 billion by July 2025 to expand its Cheongju plant by adding a facility capable of producing 400,000 RO membranes annually.
The planned expansion of 400,000 RO Membranes will desalinate 1.57 billion tons (4.32 million tons per day) of water annually. This water can be used by approximately 16 million people, which is about one-third of the entire Korean population.
Through the expansion, LG Chem aims to double its current KRW 200 billion RO membrane business within the next 5 years. In addition to the existing seawater desalination market, LG Chem also targets the growing industrial RO membrane market, including industrial water production and wastewater reuse, as demands increase rapidly.
The expansion of the RO membrane plant will involve building a smart factory that incorporates AI and digital transformation (DX) automated processes. Through real-time anomaly detection and quality and productivity management along the production line, it boosts production speed by more than 25% compared to conventional facilities. Including the expansion facility, the Cheongju RO membrane plant will operate on 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Furthermore, LG Chem signed an investment agreement with North Chungcheong Province and Cheongju City on the 28th for mutual growth in the region. The company plans to contribute to regional economic activity by purchasing locally produced materials and equipment during its expansion. In return, North Chungcheong Province and Cheongju City will provide administrative support, including permits, for the expansion of the plant.
RO membranes are materials used for water treatment processes such as converting seawater into freshwater through reverse osmosis*, producing industrial water, and reusing wastewater. Since its acquisition of NanoH2O in 2014, LG Chem has continued to grow in the water treatment business and is currently the second-largest player in the global seawater desalination RO membrane market.
* A method of separating two solutions with different concentrations by a semipermeable membrane and applying pressure to the more concentrated side, allowing only water molecules to pass through.
According to Global Water Intelligence (GWI), an international water treatment research institute, the water treatment filter market is projected to grow from KRW 5.3 trillion in 2019 to KRW 6.4 trillion in 2024, with an average annual growth rate of 3.9%.
Hak Cheol Shin, CEO of LG Chem, stated, “Additional investment in Cheongju, which serves as RO membrane production base, will significantly expand our production capacity and position us as a global leader in RO membrane.” He added that the company “will provide top-level water treatment solutions to broader global customers and further achieve growth in related areas such as lithium extraction and CO₂ separation to align with the latest global megatrends."