Creating polymers that are constituted 50% by weight from carbon dioxide, new materials company Novomer Inc. (Ithaca, NY) is aiming to produce biodegradable, performance plastics from renewable resources, using chemistry versus biology. Were really at our core a chemistry company, not a biology company, Novomer President Charles Hamilton told MPW, compared to biobased competitors that apply biological processes like fermentation. We dont do any biology at all, and I think that helps us improve the purity of materials. We can make things to very specific specifications with very, very high purity and very tight poly dispersion that are very difficult with biology.
Based in part on research undertaken at Cornell University by Geoffrey Coates, Novomer cofounder and its chief scientific officer, the technology combines epoxides with carbon dioxides to make resins (see MPW May 2005 Material Thoughts for initial report). The company still manufactures some of the polylimonene carbonate from those initial experiments, but now its working towards a broader portfolio.
The core of the technology involves combining carbon dioxide with epoxides at very low temperatures and pressures to produce a scalable, synthetically manufactured polymer that is up to 50% by weight carbon dioxide. In November, the company raised $6.6 million in funding for product development. In addition, it received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the development of its polymerization catalyst systems, including a catalyst system that converts a range of A-olefins into polymers having a more regular structure than typically achieved through the copolymerization of ethylene and propylene.[email protected]