Producing Carbon-negative Plastic for Newlight’s AirCarbon

Released August 29, 2013

Scientists at Newlight Technologies LLC have achieved a scalable, cost-effective carbon-negative plastic production method for AirCarbon, a high-performance thermoplastic made by pulling carbon out of air.

A carbon-negative plastic has been sought-after for many years. While a material that pulls carbon out of the air has been produced, the cost to produce it has been three times higher than the cost to produce plastic from oil.

Led by a development team comprising of Evan Creelman, Mark Herrema and Kenton Kimmel, Newlight’s manufacturing process begins with a point-source stream of air containing greenhouse gas that is collected and fed into a proprietary gas polymerization reactor. Using multiple gas mass transfer technology, air and greenhouse gas is then converted into aqueous form.

Dissolved gas is then contacted with an engineered biocatalyst that polymerizes hydrogen, oxygen and carbon into a long-chain thermoplastic polymer at high yield. The resin is converted to plastic pellets, which are as strong as oil-based plastics and more cost effective.

Founded in 2003, Newlight Technologies has invented, patented, and commercialized AirCarbon, a paradigm-shifting material made by pulling carbon, such as methane and carbon dioxide, out of air.  As a result of Newlight’s breakthroughs in gas conversion yield and polymer performance, AirCarbon can replicate the performance of oil-based plastics while significantly out-competing on price, representing a market-driven solution to displacing oil, reducing material cost, and reversing climate change.

AirCarbon is currently being used to manufacture furniture, bags, films, containers, top caps, and a variety of other products.

Newlight’s AirCarbon was recently awarded a R&D 100 Award for being one of the top innovations of the year.  The prestigious and influential R&D 100 Awards are also famously known as the “Oscars of Innovation.”

Newlight Technologies’s AirCarbon also won the “Biomaterial of the Year” award for the company’s AirCarbon material at the 2013 International Biomaterials Conference in Cologne, Germany this month.

Category: Innovation