Categories
Carbon Capture Materials

47: Making plastic out of greenhouse gases in the air

Problem:

Carbon capture should be turned to something useful.

Solution:

Markus D. Herrema, founder of NewLight Technologies of Huntington Beach, California has found a way to use a specially developed micro-organism-based biocatalyst (similar to an enzyme) to turn waste gas captured from air into a bioplastic called AirCarbon, a naturally-occurring biopolymer that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and out-compete on price.

The biocatalyst pulls carbon out of methane or carbon dioxide from farms, water treatment plants, landfills, or energy facilities, then combines it with hydrogen and oxygen to synthesize a biopolymer material.

AirCarbon can be used in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, and injection molding applications to make products, including phone cases and furniture.

Herrema, who graduated magna cum laude High Honors from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Political Theory, with additional work in Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry, founded NewLight in 2003.

He was assisted by Kenton Kimmel in the design, scale-up, and optimization of the company’s gas-to-plastic technology, including the engineering, construction, commissioning, and optimization of the Company’s production lines, as well as the detailed engineering of Newlight’s commercial production facility.

Since commercial scale-up in 2013, Newlight has developed commercialization relationships with Dell, Sprint, Virgin, KI, HP, and The Body Shop. In 2015, Newlight executed a 19 billion pound off-take agreement with Vinmar International as well as 10 billion pounds in licensed production.

The Netherlands
The following year, Paques Holdings in Balk, the Netherlands entered into a 15-year technology license agreement that would allow Paques to manufacture, process, and sell bioplastics based on Newlight’s proprietary GHG to AirCarbon™ conversion technology, at a rate of up to 1.4 million tons (1.3 million tonnes) per year.

In recognition of Newlight’s technological and commercialization achievements, Newlight was awarded “Innovation of the Year” by “Popular Science” in 2014, “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum in 2015, “Technology Excellence Award” by “PC Magazine” in 2014, “Company of the Year” by CleanTech OC in 2014, “Biomaterial of the Year” by the Nova-Institute in 2013, and an R&D 100 Award as “one of the 100 most significant innovations of the year” in 2013.

Discover solution 48: a super bug to consume oil spills

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