Novomer. Catalyzing green chemistry.

November 15, 2011 in Biotech/ Biofuels, Carbon capture

Novomer converts waste CO2 and CO into valuable plastics.  Pretty awesome, right?




To break it down, plastics are simply polymers of carbon and hydrogen.  Traditionally, they are manufactured almost entirely from fossil fuels, which is probably something we don’t think about.

In contrast, Novomer’s innovative technology combines traditional feedstock with up to 50% of waste CO2 and CO and uses propriety catalysts to produce high-performance plastics used for packaging, coatings, electronics, and more.

What’s the big deal?  Let’s consider three important criteria for comparing plastics technologies: sustainability, cost, and performance.

1. Traditional plastics are cheap and have high performance, but — are made from fossil fuels (ie. not sustainable).

2. There’s a new type of plastics emerging from bio-based polymers, made from sustainable feedstock like corn, but these plastics are expensive and lack performance required for many applications.

3. Novomer’s CO2-based plastics are competitive, have high-performance, and best of all, are made from up to 50% CO2 and CO.  Not only does this mean that Novomer uses 50% less fossil fuels in the mix, but their innovative products also “sequester” CO2 during the life of the product.  It’s a two-way benefit in terms of sustainability!

We also saw this innovative idea of converting waste CO2 into a valuable product with Joule Unlimited which converts waste CO2 into ethanol and diesel fuels.  As Novomer explains, while the quantities of CO2 are small compared to the amount of CO2 released on a global scale, technologies like Novomer’s and Joule’s could serve as a stepping stone to large scales.

Novomer has won numerous awards and was recently recognized as one of the 2011 Global Cleantech 100.  Right on!

Just a sidenote: the Global Cleantech 100 list is great for learning about awesome cleantech companies, including many I’ve written about such as 1366, Opower, Harvest Power, Recyclebank, and RelayRides.