Written by Colin Athens 

Novomer Inc. has developed an efficient way to use carbon dioxide to create affordable plastic that is less harmful to the environment. The process, founded by chemists from Cornell University, sequesters the greenhouse gases and can be used to make biodegradable plastics used in packaging, electronic cases, and absorbent materials. 

Collaborating with Eastman Kodak Co., Novomer has developed a process for converting excess CO2 into an assortment of plastic products for use in the packaging industry.  The resulting material requires half as much fossil fuel as traditional commercial plastics. Novomer’s process replaces the fossil fuel with carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the environment. It is also free of BPA, a carcinogen found in some commercial plastic products. Novomer’s innovative plastic material can be used in the manufacture of bottles, films, laminates, coatings on food and beverage cans, and in other wood and metal surface applications. 

The company hopes to compete with producers of conventional industrial polymers whose products are made entirely from petroleum. Novomer emphasizes the green aspect of its products in a way to exploit consumer concerns about the environment. However, the primary advantage of making polymers from carbon gases is cheaper production, which will help Novomer grab market share.  

Novomer is currently partnering with sizeable consumer-goods companies to make soda bottles, shampoo bottles, and other packaging. According to CEO, Jim Mahoney, these products are expected to appear in stores in the next two years. In addition to its corporate office based in Waltham, Massachusetts, the company has secured site commitments in Rochester, NY, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Orangeburg, SC and Ithaca, NY where production and distribution will take place. Even the government seems to be excited about Novomer’s innovative plastic material, granting them $18.4 million in federal stimulus money.



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