Performance-Advantaged Plastic Made from CO2 and Waste Biomass

M. Kanan
Stanford University,
United States

Keywords: plastic, biomass, waste, sustainability


Plastics are indispensable for nearly every major industry, but their accumulation in nature and emissions-intensive production have sparked demand for environmentally benign alternatives. To be viable on a meaningful scale, replacements for conventional plastic cannot sacrifice performance. ReSource has created technology to produce the first commodity plastic that is made from truly sustainable feedstocks yet outperforms conventional materials and has a favorable end-of-use profile. Our first product is a platform chemical called FDCA, which is a replacement for the petrochemical known as PTA that is used to make polyester plastics. More than 50 million tons of PTA are produced annually, resulting in >100 million tons GHG emissions each year. Polyester represents a >$100B industry, with applications spanning packaging, bottles and fibers. Polyesters made using FDCA have superior gas barrier, thermal, and mechanical properties compared to conventional polyesters, which translates into better performance with less plastic. FDCA-based polyesters are also 100% recyclable, industrially compostable, and degrade much faster than conventional polyester if accidentally released into the environment. The commercialization of these materials has been impeded by the high complexity and cost of conventional technologies for making FDCA, all of which source FDCA from edible sugar. ReSource’s technology produces FDCA from CO2 and inedible biomass and eliminates two thirds of the process steps, resulting in dramatically reduced production cost that enables market penetration for high volume applications. In addition to favorable economics, we make it possible to produce FDCA with negative emissions.