‘AirCarbon’ technology promises not only to reduce the use of petroleum in plastic manufacturing, but to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at the same time. The net result could be a ‘whole new paradigm for how plastics impact the world’, says Mark Herrema, the company’s co-founder and chief executive.
The process involves harnessing carbon from greenhouse gas and using it as a resource to make materials that are as strong as oil-based plastics but less expensive.
The technology works by initially isolating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from industrial sources, such as digesters and methane capture technologies on dairy farms. The carbon-heavy air is then pumped into a biocatalyst that isolates the carbon, before reassembling it in a polymerising process into a long-chain thermo polymer.
So the big question is, will it take off? The early signs are certainly promising. A recent announcement stated that both an iPhone 5 and 5s case will be launched based on the revolutionary thermoplastic. The case, which is certified by the independent environmental auditor Trucost, as “carbon negative” (meaning that it stores more carbon than in emits), will initially sell in limited volumes online.