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Plastic From Thin Air

Newlight Technologies Aircarbon

Humans produce 660 billion pounds of plastic a year, and the manufacturing process creates three times as much carbon dioxide by weight as actual plastic. “That’s an insane amount of material,” says Newlight Technologies CEO Mark Herrema. “Wouldn’t we be better off using plastic as a conveyor belt for capturing and sequestering carbon emissions instead?” That’s exactly what his company does.

Typically, plastic is made by exposing hydro­carbons from fossil fuels to tremendous pressure and energy. Newlight’s first commercial plant, in California, captures methane generated by a dairy farm’s waste lagoon and transports it to a bioreactor. There, enzymes combine the gas with air to form a polymer. The resulting plastic, called AirCarbon, performs identically to most oil-based plastics but costs less—creating a market-­driven solution to global warming. Companies have already signed on to use AirCarbon in their products, including KI desk chairs (pictured), Dell computer packaging, and Sprint smartphone cases. Newlight Technologies

 Source: Popular Science

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