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Korea Western Power recycles oyster shells to reduce fine dust

A Kowepo official (second from left) explains the operation of an oyster shell recycling facility. (Kowepo)
A Kowepo official (second from left) explains the operation of an oyster shell recycling facility. (Kowepo)


Korea Western Power (Kowepo) said Friday that it is recycling oyster shells to create a material that can transform sulfur dioxide emitted from fossil fuel plants into ashes.

When released, sulfur dioxide can react with other pollutants in the air and generate fine dust.

According to the state-run utility, it began operating an oyster recycling facility in Taean, South Chungcheong Province, as oyster shells -- which are made of calcium carbonate -- can react with sulfur dioxide and turn it into sulfates, which become part of the ash. Though limestone is currently used to react with sulfur dioxide, oyster shells have a higher percentage of calcium carbonate.

Since starting the project in 2016, Kowepo verified the desulfurization technology using oyster shells last year. Next it will check the facility’s economic feasibility. If it is deemed feasible, the company will purchase all desulfurization materials made at the facility to use in its plants.

The facility is also expected to address 400,000 metric tons of leftover oyster shells generated in Korea every year. Though some of the shells are reused as fertilizer, most of them are thrown away to rot, causing unpleasant smell and other environmental issues.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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