Novomer: Manufacturing Plastics & Polymers from Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

By: | August 28th, 2015

Novomer, an emerging sustainable chemical company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is turning CO2 and CO (carbon monoxide) pollution into profitable commercial feedstocks and products that when combined with traditional chemical feedstocks, reduces environmental CO2 and CO. The company won the ICIS Innovation Award 2012 for sustainable impact.

Reducing Carbon Footprints

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a plentiful raw material that is a byproduct in farming-related processes, including ethanol fermentation, ammonia production, hydrogen and ethylene oxide production, and more. CO2 is also a byproduct of natural gas wells and flue gasses from coal-fired power plants.

Novomer’s transformation of “waste” CO2 as a raw material into polyethylene, polyprophylene, and polyols, including polyethers and polyesters, reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to produce thermoplastics by 50% by weight. As CO2 is used as feedstock or ingredient to create products, significant amounts of it are sequestered or stored in intermediary or end products. The company’s materials created from CO2 and CO are cost competitive and do not require subsidies that would be derived from Carbon Taxes or Carbon Cap & Trade Systems.

The technology used by Novomer was developed by Prof. Jeffrey Coates and researchers at Cornell University and licensed to the company. According to Coates, “we started working on making plastics from carbon dioxide when I started as an assistant professor at Cornell in 1997. It is very satisfying to see that what started out as a crazy idea and some basic research has turned into a new commercial material.”

Novomer is now working with companies including concrete manufacturers and power companies that pump a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, and it is getting a lot of attention internationally.

The following is a video of a Novomer engineer explaining the company’s business:

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys research and writing about cutting edge technologies that hold the promise of improving conditions for all life on planet earth.

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