Signed June 23, the off-take agreement commits Vinmar to initially purchase 1 billion pounds of Newlight's AirCarbon PHA over 20 years, and for possible expansion of the contract for delivery to Vinmar of up to 19 billion pounds over the same two decades.
Newlight plans to ramp up production in three phases providing Vinmar with 100 percent of the annual AirCarbon PHA output from sequentially developed 50-million, 300-million and 600-millon-pound facilities. The equipment operates now at its nameplate capacity of 2 million pounds per year.
Currently at a plant in central California's Kern County, Newlight uses a biocatalyst in a large-scale reactor to convert and assemble carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules into long chain PHA-based polymers. By weight, about 40 percent is oxygen from the air, and 60 percent is carbon and hydrogen from carbon emissions. The patented reactor technology came on line in August 2013.
Farming operations in adjacent Tulare County provide the methane, primarily from animal waste.
Newlight employs 20 in Costa Mesa in southern California at its headquarters, research and development and early-stage production location.
Herrema and Chief Technology Officer Kenton Kimmel co-founded Newlight in 2003.
“We spent nine years being very quiet without a website,” Herrema said.
In November 2013, Newlight displayed its first AirCarbon-made product — a chair from contract furniture manufacturer KI of Green Bay, Wis. ? at the Greenbuild International Conference and Exposition in Philadelphia.
“The last couple of years have been interesting,” Herrema said, with the start of the transition to contract manufacturing for larger volumes and high-profile opportunities.
Virgin Group Ltd., Sprint Corp. and Dell Inc. provided early business to Newlight, Herrema said. “Now we are selling AirCarbon for bags for Dell, cell phone cases for Sprint and caps and closures” for a unit of the French cosmetics and beauty company L'Oréal SA.
“Other interesting partnerships” are pending, he noted.
Houston-based Vinmar markets, distributes and sells plastics and chemicals globally. It employs more than 450 and had 2014 sales of $4.5 billion. In 2009, Vinmar established its Premier Polymers LLC unit for polymer distribution in the U.S. and Canada.
Vinmar is an operation of the Goradia Capital LLC family investment group.