Donald J. Trump may feel that climate change is a hoax, but there will continue to be steady growth in new technologies that reduce the impact of the plastics’ industry on carbon emissions.
Lightweighting in cars and aircraft is a major ongoing strategy, particularly in aircraft because carbon composites are game changers that reduce fuel and maintenance costs, while also improving comfort for passengers. Development in sustainably sourced plastics continues, with major real gains coming in soda bottles. In the newest development, DuPont and BASF are betting big on a type of bio feedstock that portends major changes for plastics packaging, in both film and bottles.
One of the other developments that is very interesting is the potential use of technology that sequesters carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel fired power plants and other industrial sources or directly from the atmosphere (by means of algae).
One example comes from a technology startup based in Chicago called NeoChloris, named for a type of green algae.
The company’s patent application was published this week. It describes equipment that grabs carbon and converts it to methane through anaerobic digestion. “The additional carbon-sequestering biomass generated can be harvested for use as raw material for biopolymers, bioplastics, biodiesel, biochar, and the like, with the extraction waste being anaerobically digested to generate methane,” states the patent application.
NeoChloris has funded laboratory research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that it says successfully proves the core concept behind its technology. “Results of this research demonstrate that our process will be able to sequester more carbon dioxide and produce more biofuel than competing technologies,” the company states.
The company also designed and helped install a biogas measurement system for an anaerobic facility treating manure at a swine farm in the Philippines. As a result, the company earned Certified Emission Reduction (CER) carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.
The next step?
”We are keeping our go-to-market strategy hush-hush for right now,” says Charles R. Stack, chief technology officer at NeoChloris. “The rest of the industry would love to know what we are doing.”
Companies like NeoChloris may not be getting any help from the federal government in the next four years, but there is enough underlying momentum from responsible corporations and other governments (e.g. Japan, California) to keep efforts moving along.