Our Technology : From Gas to Plastic
Every day, plants pull carbon out of the air we breathe and use it to make useful materials, like leaves and branches.
Inspired by these carbon-capturing processes found in nature, Newlight has developed, patented, and commercialized a carbon capture technology that uses greenhouse gas emissions as a resource to produce a plastic material called AirCarbon: a material that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and significantly out-compete on price.
The AirCarbon production process begins with concentrated carbon emissions that would otherwise become a part of the air, including air-bound carbon like methane and carbon dioxide generated from farms, water treatment plants, landfills, and energy facilities.
Due to the high heat-trapping potential 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 (to match the environmental impact of one methane emissions capture plant, 20 carbon dioxide plants would be needed). Newlight is now using the company's patented, award-winning greenhouse gas-to-plastic bioconversion technology to convert methane-containing greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise become part of the air we breathe into plastic.
First, those concentrated carbon emissions are captured, combined with air, and inserted into Newlight's polymerization system.
Once inside, the air/greenhouse gas stream is contacted with Newlight's biocatalyst--the breakthrough engine behind AirCarbon production process, operating at nearly an order of magnitude higher yield than previous greenhouse gas-to-polymer biocatalysts.
Newlight's biocatalyst works by separating carbon and oxygen from an air stream containing greenhouse gas, and then re-assembling those molecules into a long chain PHA-based thermoplastic material called AirCarbon.
Using Newlight's breakthrough microorganism-based 9X biocatalyst, which generates a polymer conversion yield that is over nine times higher than previous greenhouse gas-to-PHA conversion technologies and fundamentally shifts the cost structure of the greenhouse gas to plastic conversion process, AirCarbon can significantly out-compete oil-based plastics, such as polypropylene and polyethylene, on price.
Once synthesized, AirCarbon is then removed from the reactor system and processed into a pellet, which can then be melted and formed into shapes as a replacement for oil-based plastics.
In 2013, after ten years of continuous pilot and demonstration scale operations, the AirCarbon production process was scaled to commercial scale in August 2013, with the successful commissioning of a four-story, multi-acre AirCarbon production operation in California, using air and concentrated methane-based carbon emissions generated at an agricultural digester—carbon that would otherwise become part of the air —as inputs to produce material that would otherwise be made from oil.
In November 2013, Newlight unveiled the world's first carbon-negative product made using AirCarbon, launching the AirCarbon chair with KI at the Greenbuild International Conference in Philadelphia.
Newlight is now working with Fortune 500 partners and brand name market leaders to use AirCarbon as a material to launch carbon-negative products across a range of market segments, including in automotive, electronics, construction, apparel, and others:
Products that harness greenhouse gas emissions as a resource, reduce cost, and generate a net positive impact, sequestering more carbon than they generate.
Imagine the possibilities.TM>>
The Newlight GHG-to-PlasticTM Process
|Capture: First, concentrated methane-based carbon 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.|
|Isolate: Next, those carbon emissions are combined with air and contacted with Newlight's biocatalyst, which works by separating carbon and oxygen out of an input air stream.|
|Polymerize: Finally, isolated carbon and oxygen, along with hydrogen, are re-assembled and linked together into a long chain thermopolymer, called AirCarbon.|