3D Printing

Asia's Largest Oil Refiner Shifts to 3D Printing Materials & Renewable Energy

As the world’s economic powers move away from the dying industry of oil production and processing, there will be plenty of opportunities to transition into more sustainable and, eventually, more lucrative industries.  China Petrochemical Corp., or Sinopec Group, is Asia’s largest oil refiner and, according to Wikipedia, the largest company in the world, by revenue.  In the face of the market and environmental demand for sustainable living, Sinopec will be shifting away from oil production and processing towards clean energy, environmental protection, and new materials.  Specifically, the oil giant will be looking to new materials for 3D printing.

At an annual conference in Beijing, company Chairman Fu Chengyu explained that, in response to a collapse in the oil market, the company will be establishing industrial parks, an investment fund, and a research institute to speed up their innovation.  Among these investments are geothermal, biofuel, solar, and wind energy, an environmental protection unit to reduce pollution in China, and special materials for 3D printing.

sinopec chairman 3D printing materials
Sinopec’s Chairman Fu Chengyu. Photo via WSJ.

Chairman Fu states on the company’s website, “I hope that after a decade or so, we’ll be a science-based petrochemical company. Research [is being] conducted to explore 3D printing businesses, and to create conditions for the development of 3D printing materials.” This comes after the company had a “challenging year” in 2014.

An analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. in Shanghai, Shi Yan, tells Bloomberg, “It’s smart to explore opportunities in high-margin products in new materials and services businesses, as lower crude prices have choked almost every oil explorer in the world. Ideally, Sinopec wants to turn itself into China’s DuPont.” As the world’s fourth largest chemical company based on market cap. and eighth largest based on revenue, DuPont is responsible for a huge number of materials for the manufacturing industry.  The company was also the fourth largest source of air pollution in the US in 2010, according to the Political Economy Research Institute.  For that reason, I hope Sinopec pushes ahead of DuPont on the environmental front.