As the plastics industry continues to grow, we see continuous innovations and improvements in technology. Today plastic resin is primarily manufactured using oil or other fossil fuels. After these resins are manufactured, they are sent to plastic molders who use various techniques, including plastic injection molding, to create the plastic products with which we are all familiar. A recent innovation in the plastics industry is actually utilizing pollution as an energy source for creating plastic resin.
How is this even possible? It took inventors Mark Herrema and Kenton Kimmel about a decade to create a plastic resin that could compete in function and price with resins manufactured using fossil fuels. Many people have worked on this concept before them, but failed to create a solution that was affordable for manufacturers. Herrema and Kimmel’s invention AirCarbon is the solution to this problem.
In 2003, Herrema and Kimmel founded Newlight Technologies where they manufacture AirCarbon with patented GHG-to-plastic conversion technology. This 3 step process begins with the collection of carbon and air by Newlight’s conversion reactor. Second the captured carbon is isolated from the air and finally the carbon is linked into a chain thermopolymer, AirCarbon. The reason they can offer AirCarbon at a reasonable price when previous inventors failed is because they created a bio-catalyst that is ten-times more effective than their predecessors.
AirCarbon is currently being used to produce plastic products such as furniture, automotive parts, packaging and phone cases. It can be utilized in a wide variety of applications because it acts much like polypropylene. In fact, AirCarbon can actually be produced cheaper than polypropylene.
Major corporations such as Sprint, Dell and Virgin Mobile are using AirCarbon to create “carbon negative” plastic products. Instead of creating pollution when manufacturing AirCarbon, pollution is actually reduced throughout the production process; therefore it is considered carbon negative.
We have all been urged to reduce our carbon footprint by taking small steps like biking instead of driving or using energy efficient lights, but Newlight takes it step further by actually having a negative carbon product. For this reason, we will most likely be seeing AirCarbon utilized in many plastic applications throughout the coming years. By using AirCarbon, companies are not just helping to preserve the environment; they are also reducing production costs.
At the end of the day, is the 15 tons of carbon dioxide emitted per capita annually in the US going to be eliminated by using AirCarbon? Probably not, but you know what they say if you’re not part of the solution you are part of the problem.