Technology provider Novomer Inc. expects to have commercial amounts of its polypropylene carbonate resin available by the end of the year.
The Ithaca, N.Y.-based firm is making small amounts of the material now at its own site, but it is working with a pair of U.S.-based toll manufacturers to scale up production, President Charles Hamilton said April 7 by telephone. Hamilton declined to identify those firms but said commercial production could reach the 10,000-pound mark by year's end.
PPC is produced via proprietary technology that combines propylene oxide with carbon dioxide. The material uses 50 percent less fossil fuels than standard plastics, officials said.
Early applications for PPC include use as a binder resin in semiconductors and other electronic parts. Novomer, which employs 20, also is working to create an injection molding grade of PPC. Carbon dioxide is sold in industrial and restaurant grades, but soon may be available for next to nothing as manufacturers start to trade the material for carbon credits, Novomer business analyst Erik Hoover said.
``We're combining simple feedstocks and various ingredients that are low in price,'' he said.
Although PPC doesn't use plant material as a feedstock, it's being billed as a ``green'' product because of its reduced use of petroleum-based feedstocks. Interest has climbed in such products as the price of a barrel of oil has shot past the $100 mark, lifting prices for many plastics along with it.
``We differentiate ourselves as the chemical route to green materials,'' Hamilton said. ``We can be higher performing than [plant-based] materials, and we're not investing in the biological or food-based economy.''
The technology already has attracted the interest of plastics and chemicals maker Royal DSM NV of Heerlen, Netherlands, which bought an equity stake in Novomer late last year. Other investors include Ithaca-based Cornell University, as well as technology investment firms Flagship Ventures of Cambridge, Mass.; Physic Ventures of San Francisco and Kensa Group LLC of Ithaca.