Why do many of the green tech stories I wind up cover have some sort of moral dilemma involved? I mean, come on, plastics have gotten a rap as one of the most heinous substances I our daily lives.
According to the subject of this latest blog, Novomer, the world will use about 300 million pounds of plastic in the next week (although probably more with the amount of last-minute shopping people will do). Each year, that’s about 400 billion pounds of plastics worldwide and usage is growing about 5 percent per year.
So, what if you could make plastic a little greener by using carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide to make it instead of fossil fuels?
That’s what Novomer is up to, and it just got another injection of funding this week from Royal DSM to help with this mission. The funding amount wasn't disclosed.
I spoke with Novomer CEO Charles Hamilton a few weeks back. He tells me that Novomer’s green plastics technology can create all manner of materials from computer cases to forks that need to biodegrade more quickly. “We have materials that are flexible or that are hard. You can do anything you can do with traditional plastic,” he says.
Here’s an example:
Here’s what Novomer has to say to explain the above photo: This is a carbon dioxide polymer in solution, which resembles honey at this stage of production (in consistency and viscosity.
Novomer was founded in 2004 and uses chemistry techniques developed at Cornell University by Professor Geoffrey Coates and his research group. The company is doing development work for various companies, including Kodak, for which it is looking at creating specialty materials.
The investment by Royal DSM is likely to be followed by a cooperative alliance between the two companies to use Novomer’s approach in plastics production.
According to Hamilton, Novomer will also look to strike deals with companies that are producing large amounts of carbon dioxide in their manufacturing processes, such as coal plants or cement manufacturing companies. Novomer’s approach could help those organizations offset their production of greenhouse gases.