AirCarbon: From Concept to Commercialization

M. Herrema
Newlight Technologies, LLC, US

Keywords: carbon caputure, CO2, biomaterial


The use of carbon sequestration to produce thermoplastics has the potential to significantly impact efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, despite decades of efforts, the commercial success of greenhouse gas-based materials has been fundamentally constrained by the high price and functional limitations of such materials relative to their commodity counterparts. To address these issues, Newlight has developed a novel biocatalyst technology that increases the yield of thermoplastic generated from carbon sequestration by 9-10 times, or approximately one order of magnitude, relative to previous biocatalysts. As a result, Newlight's biocatalyst significantly reduces overall production cost. Coupled with breakthroughs on material performance, Newlight's carbon sequestration-based material, AirCarbon, can match the performance of oil-based plastics while out-competing on price, representing a market-driven solution to combatting climate change. After 10 years of development, the AirCarbon production process has now been scaled up to commercial scale at a four-story, multi-acre manufacturing facility in California, where carbon is being sequestered to make plastic that would otherwise be made from oil. AirCarbon has been launched to market, and is currently being used to manufacture furniture, bags, caps, and a variety of other products, with partners including Fortune 500 companies and brand-name market leaders. In recognition of the company's technological and commercialization achievements, Newlight was named "Most Innovative Company of the Year" in 2013, and AirCarbon was named "Biomaterial of the Year" and "Tech Innovation of the Year" in 2013. Newlight also received a R&D 100 Award for AirCarbon in 2013 as "one of the 100 most technologically significant innovations of the year."