From packaging materials to surface coatings to large scale moulding, plastic has played a role in shaping and ,in most instances, improving the manufacturing process over the last century and a half. Electrical components and consumer products have all been influenced by plastics.
Most of the world’s plastics are produced from petroleum and other fossil fuels but their negative environmental implications have given birth to many questions about not only the future of plastics but also the environmental stability of our planet should the issue remain otherwise un-addressed.
Newlight Technologies, founded by Mark Herrema and Kenton Kimmel, has developed a new kind of plastic polymer using air and greenhouse gases. Companies such as Dell have jumped on board with the move towards sustainable materials and have started produced Aircarbon based products. Aircarbon has also been used to produce products like chairs and cellphone covers.
First AirCarbon Plastic Chair
This remarkable polymer utilises concentrated methane-based carbon emissions that would otherwise become a part of the air, rather than fossil fuels that would otherwise remain underground, including air-bound methane emissions generated from farms, water treatment plants, landfills, and energy facilities.
Air Carbon Diagram
Due to the high heat-trapping potential and superior thermodynamics of methane compared to carbon dioxide, the company’s primary focus is on sequestering methane-based greenhouse gases, which have over 20 times the heat-trapping impact of carbon dioxide (20 carbon dioxide capture plants would be needed to match the impact of 1 methane capture plant).
Newlight is now using the company’s patented, award-winning greenhouse gas-to-plastic bio-conversion technology to produce plastics from air and methane-containing greenhouse gas emissions generated at a farm. First, rather than venting or combusting methane emissions, which would release 100% of the carbon emissions into the air, concentrated methane emissions are captured and inserted into Newlight’s polymerization system for material synthesis.
Air Carbon Processing
First, concentrated methane emissions that would otherwise become part of the air, from places like farms, landfills, and energy facilities, are directed into Newlight’s patented conversion reactor.
air – [GHG] – air
Next, those carbon emissions are combined with air and Newlight’s bio-catalyst, which pulls oxygen out of air and carbon and hydrogen out of methane.
[O] – [C] – [O]
Finally, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen are re-assembled to form a long chain thermopolymer, called AirCarbon, which is by weight approximately 40% oxygen from air and 60% carbon and hydrogen from sequestered methane.
Whilst this innovation is still relatively new, many companies such as ourselves at Power Logic, would benefit greatly from being able to produce cost effective, environmentally sustainable plastic products. Imagining the possibilities becomes more and more of a reality.