An $18.4 million federal stimulus award will help technology firm Novomer Inc. to commercialize its line of plastic materials based on renewable carbon-dioxide feedstocks.
This is the culmination of a lot of hard work, Novomer's Peter Shepard said by phone July 26. Our goal is to take and scale up our polyol and polymer products.
The Department of Energy announced the award July 22 as part of a total of $106 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding given out to six companies that are converting captured carbon-dioxide emissions into useful products.
These innovative projects convert carbon pollution from a climate threat to an economic resource, Energy Secretary Steve Chu said in a news release.
Novomer is based in Waltham, Mass., and operates a research and development lab in Ithaca, N.Y. The firm also is using production facilities operated by partners Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, N.Y., and by Albemarle Corp. in Baton Rouge, La., and Orangeburg, S.C. Novomer also has partnered with industrial gas supplier Praxair Inc.
Late last year, Novomer began pilot-scale production of its polypropylene carbonate resin on small reactors at Eastman Kodak's headquarters in Rochester. 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.
Shepard said low-molecular-weight thermoset polyols, used in coatings and adhesives, could be commercialized in 2011. High-molecular-weight thermoplastic polymers could be commercialized in 2012. Novomer's PPC polymers have potential uses in flexible and rigid packaging, including food-packaging films and blow molded bottles, Shepard said.
One of our growth drivers is that our material is 40-50 percent carbon dioxide by weight, he explained. And we offer excellent performance relative to traditional materials.
The $18.4 million award is the largest single investment in Novomer's six-year history. Earlier this year, the firm received $2.1 million in federal stimulus funding for sustainable material production. That followed an $800,000 New York state grant that Novomer received in late 2009.
This new round of funding also will preserve about 200 jobs for Novomer and its partners related to PPC work. Novomer itself employs about 25.
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.