Can carbon dioxide be a feedstock for plastics and polymers? Novomer has raised $14 million in a second round to try and prove it.
The Cornell spin-out has devised a catalytic process that it believes could potentially solve a few big waste problems. The company effectively transforms captured carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into binders and other chemicals for the plastics industry.
Thus, in one swoop, you get reduction of atmospheric carbon, carbon credits in jurisdictions that recognize them, reduced demand for oil, and a method for giving captured carbon an economic value beyond carbon credits.
Industrial chemicals also often sell for far higher prices than oil or gas. Thus, companies like algae makers like Biolight Harvesting are focusing more on chemicals than fuel.
The sticking point, as seen with other bioplastic and green chemical companies, is the price. Making binders from pollution isn't cheap. Novomer's binders, which contain 40 percent carbon dioxide, cost between $50 and $200 per pound in 2008, compared with an average cost of between $50 and $125 per pound for traditional electronics-industry binders.
Other notable bioplastic companies include Cereplast, which sells starch-based bioplastic materials, and Plastech, an Irish company that has a microbe that can turn plastic into a biodegradable form of plastic. In green chemistry, keep an eye on Genomatica, which has a list of synthetic industrial solvents.
The company, founded in 2004, earlier raised around $7 million. Investors in the current round include Flagship Venture Partners and OVP Venture Partners.