Carbon Dioxide is starting to be seen, virtually around the world, as a valuable raw material resource from which, instead of petroleum-based raw materials, we can synthesize perhaps all, or nearly all, of the polymers and plastics that are so indispensable to all sectors of our modern economy.

That fact is clearly stated as a goal by no less a global titan of the international polymers industry than Bayer Corporation, as seen in our report of:


Bayer's CO2 Recycling Dream Comes True | Research & Development | News; which centers on the Bayer publication:

"A Dream Comes True; Technology Solutions, 2010; Crude oil is the raw material used to produce most plastics. What if one could conserve this limited resource and use carbon dioxide instead, which is available in abundance? For decades, chemists have considered this alternative a “dream reaction”, but now it is close to reality. ... CO2 is to be integrated into the molecular structure of plastics and thus reduce the use of crude oil in the production of these indispensable engineering materials".

Among the technologies developed and being developed to use Carbon Dioxide as a chemical component of plastics and polymers are those originating in the Cornell University labs of Professor Geoffrey Coates, as seen for one example in our report of: 

Cornell University Uses CO2 to Synthesize Plastics | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,093,351 - Copolymerization of Propylene Oxide and Carbon Dioxide; 2012; Inventors: Geoffrey Coates, et. al., NY; Assignee: Cornell (University) Research Foundation, Ithaca, NY; Abstract: Copolymers of propylene oxide and carbon dioxide ... are made using two dimensional double metal cyanide complexes having the formula Co[M(CN)4 or hydrated or partially dehydrated form thereof. ... Government Interests: This invention was made at least in part with U.S. Government support under NSF grant numbers CHE-0243605 and DMR-0079992. The Government has certain rights in the invention".

And, as seen in our report of:

USDOE Announces Plastics Made from Carbon Dioxide | Research & Development | News; concerning, in part, the article: 

"'Recycling Carbon Dioxide to Make Plastics'; 2013; Novomer’s thermoplastic pellets incorporate waste CO2 into a variety of consumer products. ... The Cornell University spinoff’s technology centers on a catalyst that converts carbon dioxide into a polymer that could be used to make everyday items such as packaging, cups, and forks. The plastic, which was originally created by Cornell chemist Geoffrey Coates, is also safe and strong enough to be used in medical implants and devices.The plastic should be relatively inexpensive since carbon dioxide is a cheap feedstock, says Coates"; . The plastic is being made on a pilot scale, and Novomer declines to give details of its commercial-scale manufacturing plans. Novomer president Charles Hamilton says that, while it is hard to predict the product’s final cost, it should be cost competitive with traditional petroleum-based plastics";

the company "Novomer" was formed as a "spinoff" from Cornell University to, in part with US Government funding, begin "pilot scale" production of "plastic" made, in part, from Carbon Dioxide - - plastic which "should be cost competitive with traditional petroleum-based plastics".

And, herein, we submit a report from the United States Department of Energy, recently made accessible on the web, confirming that Novomer's CO2-based plastic is, indeed, cost-competitive with it's petroleum-based counterpart. 

Comment follows excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:

"Catalytic Transformation of Waste CO2 into Valuable Products

December 31, 2013 (revised Jan 24, 2014)

Final Scientific / Technical Report

Jason Anderson, Peter Shepard, Ron Valente; Novomer, Inc.; Waltham, MA

DOE Award Number: DE-FE0002474

Abstract: Novomer’s novel materials contain up to 50% by mass CO2 and provide a unique platform for re-using CO2 from waste industrial sources and converting it into useful products.

This Report covers the progress made by Novomer during the DOE funded project (DOE Award #: DE-FE0002474) under the “Carbon Capture and Sequestration from Industrial Sources and Innovative Concepts for Beneficial CO2 Use” program. This includes Phase 1 and Phase 2, including all three subphases of the latter. Novomer completed all technical and commercial objectives in both Phase 1 and Phase 2, including the six Phase 2 Objectives outlined in the SOPO within budget by the project end date of September 30, 2013.

These are: validating the economics are competitive, validate the carbon footprint, validate acceptable product performance, verify robust manufacturing process, validate large markets exist, and qualify at least 3 products with customers.

Executive Summary: In Phase 1, Novomer met or exceeded all the technical and commercial objectives of the project as outlined in the cooperative agreement signed between Novomer and the DOE. This included:

-  Demonstrated the process feasibility for the batch polymerization of CO2 and propylene oxide (PO) to polypropylene carbonate (PPC) by scaling up from the lab scale in Ithaca to the pilot scale at Kodak.

-  Conducted testing of properties and evaluation of PPC in various applications at contract labs and potential customers and identified market opportunities for PPC in Coatings, Adhesives, Graphic Arts, and Flexible & Rigid Packaging.

-  Developed a detailed material and energy balance for the process for high and low Mw PPC

-  Developed a detailed economic model for commercial scale manufacturing of PPC

-  Developed data on carbon balance and environmental footprint of the PPC manufacturing process.

Based on this progress, Novomer applied for and was awarded additional funding under a Phase 2 cooperative agreement.

In Phase 2, Novomer completed all technical and commercial objectives including the six Phase 2 Objectives outlined in the SOPO within budget by the project end date of September 30, 2013. A summary of Novomer’s achievements across these six objectives is summarized below.

1. Validate Economics are Competitive - Novomer has validated its economic model using data from the Albemarle Orangeburg demonstration scale manufacturing facility. This analysis shows that Novomer CO2-based polymers will be cost competitive or advantaged vs. the existing commodity polymers used in Novomer’s target markets.

2. Validate the Carbon Footprint - Novomer has updated its life cycle analysis, including carbon footprint calculations, based on data generated throughout the project. This analysis shows that Novomer CO2-based polymers have (an approximately) 3x lower carbon footprint than the existing commodity polymers used in Novomer’s target markets.

3. Validate Acceptable Product Performance - Novomer produced both PPC and PEC polymers and tested these for quality and performance in a range of High Mw and Low Mw applications. Novomer has validated acceptable product performance across a range of applications. Key product performance attributes include High Mw PPC & PEC-based films with very good oxygen barrier, Low Mw PPC & PEC-based coatings with excellent hardness and flexibility, Low Mw PPC & PEC-based adhesives with exceptional strength and hydrolytic stability, and Low Mw PPC & PEC-based foams with excellent compressive, tear and tensile strength.

4. Validate Robust Manufacturing Process - Both the continuous pilot process and the large scale batch process were validated, with all data on process parameters and finished product performance indicating that Novomer polymers can be scaled-up to meet the large volume needs of customers.

5. Verify Large Volume Markets Exist for the CO2 Based Materials - Novomer has identified near-term addressable markets for Low Mw PPC polyol in excess of 2.5 billion pounds. These markets include reactive hot melt and 2K adhesives, coil and can coatings, flexible slabstock foam, resilient molded foam, and multi-stream rigid foams.

The long term addressable markets for Low Mw PPC & PEC polyol and High Mw PPC & PEC polyol are in excess of 5 billion pounds.

6. Qualify at Least 3 Products with Customers - Novomer has identified 3 Low Mw Polyol products which have been tested at Adhesive and Coating customers and verified to have beneficial performance and acceptable cost vs. incumbent technologies.

These three products are moving into commercialization as of the completion of Phase 2".


We'll leave it at that, although the full report is much more extensive and comprehensive; and, if you have an interest in the actual details of the technology and the minutiae of US Government contract execution, it might be worth your time having a look at.

A couple of things:

First, they speculate that the markets for both Low and High Molecular Weight polyols, as can, as herein, now be made from Carbon Dioxide as a primary raw material, are about "5 billion pounds".

Our review of web-accessible data bases indicates that is roughly accurate; and, such would represent only a small consumption of Carbon Dioxide, relative to the total amount emitted by all human activities, such as and including the operation of motor vehicles and the stripping of Carbon Dioxide from natural shale gas, which is often contaminated with a high-enough percentage of CO2 just as it is extracted from natural reservoirs that the CO2 interferes with combustion and impacts the economics of transportation, and is thus stripped out of the gas and vented to the atmosphere at processing facilities nearby the gas production fields.  .

However, returning again to Bayer Corporation, as seen in another of our reports:

Bayer Is Converting Coal Power Plant CO2 Into Plastics | Research & Development | News; concerning: "'Bayer Material Science CO2-to-Plastics Pilot Plant, Germany'; In February 2011, Bayer MaterialScience started a new pilot plant (in   the) North Rhine-Westphalia state of Germany for producing plastics from   carbon dioxide (CO2). It will be used to develop polyurethanes from the waste gas released during power generation. Bayer aims to use CO2 as an alternative to production of polymer materials from   fossil fuels. The CO2 thus acts   as a substitute for the petroleum production of plastics. Polyurethanes are used to produce a wide range of   everyday applications. When they are used for the insulation of buildings, the   polyurethane saves about 80% more energy than it consumes during production.   Light weight polymers are used in the automotive industry, upholstered   furniture and mattress manufacturing. Polyurethanes are formed by reacting two monomer units of isocyanates (polymerics isocyanate or diisocyanates) and polyols. The   reaction takes place in the presence of specific quantities of catalyst and   additives under predetermined conditions. The waste carbon dioxide gas is recycled and used   as a raw material in the pilot plant. It produces polyether polycarbonate   polyols (PPPs), the chemical precursor which is processed into polyurethanes";

CO2-based polyols are reacted with "isocyanates" in order to make the finished plastic, or polymer, "polyurethane"; and, as we explained in our reports of:

Carbon Dioxide Recycled in the Manufacture of Plastics | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 4,564,513 - Process for the Production of Carbon Monoxide; 1986; Bayer Aktiengesellschaft (AG), Germany; Carbon monoxide is produced in an improved process in a carbon-filled, water-cooled generator in the configuration of a truncated cone in the longitudinal section, by the gasification of said carbon with a mixed gas of oxygen and carbon dioxide"; and:

Bayer Improves Coal + CO2 = Carbon Monoxide | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 7,473,286 - Carbon Monoxide Generator; 2009; Assignee: Bayer Material Science, AG, Germany; The present invention relates to a novel generator for the reaction of carbon-containing raw materials and also to an improved process for the production of carbon monoxide gas (CO gas) having a high degree of purity using such a generator. Carbon monoxide gas is frequently produced in the art by means of a continuous process in which carbon-containing raw materials are reacted with oxygen and carbon dioxide";

one key, basic raw material required in established methods for making the needed "isocyanates" is Carbon Monoxide, which we can make, via the above Bayer processes; from some of our abundant Coal, and, even more Carbon Dioxide. 

And, such a combined use of Carbon Dioxide in the making of both the Polyol and Isocyanate components of polyurethane could multiply the amount of CO2 consumed.

Even further, if we were thus able to stop wasting our national treasure on OPEC petroleum so that we could make plastics like polyurethane, we might be able to make a lot more polyurethane, and make it affordable enough for use in applications like that disclosed in our report of:   

Coal Ash Lumber | Research & Development | News; concerning, in part and for example: "United States Patent 7,993,552 - Filled Polymer Composite and Synthetic Building Material Compositions; 2011 Assignee: Century Board, LLC, (FL); (The Century-Board process of making building products using coal ash is commercial in the U.S., and there are several large firms that have licensed this process in major industrial countries. Two new plants are planned to come on-line in 2008-09. Clients in Brazil, Canada, Turkey and Canada and several U.S. States are in various stages of testing, finalizing products and preparing for production). Abstract: The invention relates to composite compositions having a matrix of polymer networks and dispersed phases of particulate or fibrous materials. The matrix is filled with a particulate phase, which can be selected from one or more of a variety of components, such as fly ash ... .Claims: A method of continuously forming a highly filled molded composite material comprising: mixing in a multi-zone extruder the ingredients of the material by adding the ingredients of the highly filled composite material to the various zones of the multi-zone extruder without adding heat to the mixture, wherein the composite mixture comprises: a ... poly or di-isocyanate (as specified); a first polyol (as specified); a second polyol (as specified); a foaming agent; an inorganic particulate material comprising about 60 wt % to about 85 wt % of the composite mixture, wherein the particulate material provides filler material which adds strength and reinforcement to the molded material and is added to the mixture prior to forming ... .The method ... further comprising providing shape, surface features, or both to the molded material (and) further comprising embossing or impressing a pattern on the mixture in the forming system ... wherein the pattern comprises a simulated wood grain (and) wherein the inorganic particulate material is fly ash (or) bottom ash";

wherein the CO2-based polymer, polyurethane - - which, according to the company Novomer and our United States Department of Energy herein,  could even be "cost ... advantaged" relative to conventional petroleum-based polyurethane - - could be combined with Coal Ash, and be thereby made to form an artificial lumber, complete with "simulated wood grain", thus sparing some of our CO2-recycling trees, and, we suspect, greatly expanding the size of the market for, and the use of, such CO2-based polyurethanes.

The bottom line is this:

Tax money collected by our United States Government from all across the nation has been used to demonstrate a  couple of  important facts.

Carbon Dioxide is a valuable raw material resource. It can be reclaimed, and then utilized and consumed as the key raw material, as a replacement for petroleum-based raw materials, in the synthesis of certain high-volume and high-performance polymers.

And, the polymers thus made from Carbon Dioxide might even be "cost-advantaged" relative to those made  conventionally from imported OPEC petroleum, while their properties are essentially equivalent.

But, no one has elected to publicly inform us of those facts in United States Coal Country.

Why is that, when, first, such knowledge should drive a stake through the heart of the Cap and Trade taxation vampire that threatens to drain, to sap, the economic life blood of Coal Country, and, second, when such knowledge could spur the growth of new industries, with their attendant jobs, in Coal Country, industries founded on the synthesis and manufacture of economically important plastics and polymers from our byproduct Carbon Dioxide?

West Virginia Coal Association - PO Box 3923 - Charleston, WV 25339 | 304-342-4153 | website developed by brickswithoutstraw