Novomer Inc. will use an $800,000 state grant and facilities provided by Eastman Kodak Co. to commercialize plastics made from renewable carbon-dioxide feedstocks.
Pilot-scale production of Novomer's polypropylene carbonate resin began in November on small reactors at Eastman Kodak's headquarters in Rochester, N.Y. The site also has pilot-scale film extrusion equipment, which will allow Boston-based Novomer to make test products for potential customers, said Mike Slowik, Novomer's manager of strategic planning and analysis, in a Dec. 15 telephone interview.
We're talking with several Fortune 500 packaging companies about multimillion-pound applications in beverage bottles, containers and films, Slowik said.
PPC is produced by combining propylene oxide with carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. Officials have said PPC uses 50 percent less fossil fuel than standard plastics. Potential PPC markets include coatings, surfactants, flexible packaging and fibers.
Novomer's ability to reduce petroleum usage by at least 50 percent while also converting CO2 from pollution into valuable materials has the potential to transform the plastics and materials landscape on a global scale, Novomer CEO Jim Mahoney said in a Dec. 14 news release.
Slowik added that Novomer's PPC has a great combination of impact resistance and stiffness, as well as a good oxygen barrier, which would appeal to plastics processors. PPC also has the potential to replace polypropylene and polystyrene, either as a blend or as a straight resin, because of its performance attributes, cost competitiveness and lower environmental impact, according to Slowik.
The $800,000 grant for the project is being provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The first phase of the project, based on an earlier, $150,000 state grant, was a feasibility study carried out between December 2008 and May 2009 to investigate the financial, marketing, and environmental potential for PPC materials.
The current phase is expected to continue through the end of 2010. At that point, Slowik said Novomer will review its results and decide how to proceed with larger-scale commercial production of PPC.
Novomer was founded in 2004 and currently employs 23. Slowik said the Kodak project will sustain a dozen jobs, both in Rochester and at Novomer's research lab in Ithaca, N.Y.
Novomer's PPC technology was developed by researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca. Some of those researchers have invested in the firm.
Other investors include OVP Venture Partners of Kirtland, Wash., and DSM Venturing, a unit of Royal DSM NV.
Copyright 2010 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.