Newlight Technologies: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

April 21, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoNewlight, founded in 2003, is harnessing methane-based carbon emissions as a resource to replace oil and reduce the cost of plastics production–fundamentally changing both the economics and environmental impact of the plastics industry.

The AirCarbon production process begins with concentrated methane-based carbon emissions that would otherwise become a part of the air, rather than fossil fuels that would otherwise remain underground, including air-bound methane emissions generated from farms, water treatment plants, landfills, and energy facilities.

Due to the high heat-trapping potential and superior thermodynamics of methane compared to carbon dioxide, the company’s primary focus is on sequestering methane-based greenhouse gases, which have over 20 times the heat-trapping impact of carbon dioxide (20 carbon dioxide capture plants would be needed to match the impact of 1 methane capture plant). Newlight is now using the company’s patented, award-winning greenhouse gas-to-plastic bioconversion technology to produce plastics from air and methane-containing greenhouse gas emissions generated at a farm.


The 40 Hottest Smaller Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy, #25, 2014-15

The Situation

2013 was a breakthrough year for Newlight. After a decade of research and development, which included a technology breakthrough increasing biocatalyst yield by 9 times over previous technologies, Newlight successfully scaled up to commercial scale at a four-story manufacturing facility in California, converting methane emissions into high-performance AirCarbon plastic.

Since scale-up, Newlight’s sales volume has increased dramatically; today, Newlight is working with over 60 Fortune 500 companies across 9 major market segments to launch AirCarbon products. AirCarbon’s value proposition is unique in the market: harnessing methane-based carbon emissions as a resource to displace oil and reduce the cost of plastics. Newlight’s focus today is expanding production capacity, and the company is currently working to expand to 50 million pounds per year capacity to meet demand.

Top Past Milestones

In 2014, Dell announced new sustainability initiatives designed to increase the ways that its IT solutions make lasting contributions to the planet. Dell is the first in the IT industry to introduce carbon-negative packaging, through a partnership with Newlight Technologies, inventor and manufacturer of AirCarbon.
At Fortune Brainstorm Green, Dell CEO Michael Dell said today’s announcement is the next milestone in Dell’s 2020 Legacy of Good plan, which includes 21 ambitious sustainability and social goals Dell is committed to reaching by 2020. The overarching goal is to ensure that the good that comes from Dell’s technology will be ten times what it takes to create and use it.“We have a long-standing commitment to conduct our business responsibly,” said Mr. Dell. “Air Carbon packaging and closed-loop recycled plastics are terrific innovations and big steps forward as we work with our customers and partners toward our 2020 goals.”

In May 2014, Sprint announced it will be one of the first companies to use AirCarbon™, a new carbon-negative material made from greenhouse gas, instead of petroleum, to create plastic products. The material will be used in black and pink cell phone cases for the iPhone® 5 and iPhone® 5s that will be sold online exclusively on by late May for $29.99, plus tax. Sprint is the first telecommunications company in the world to launch a carbon-negative product using AirCarbon™.
The material, AirCarbon, is manufactured by California-based Newlight Technologies. The company uses a proprietary carbon capture process to convert air and greenhouse gases (GHGs) into a plastic that has similar durability and performance characteristics to petroleum-based plastics.

In April 2014, Newlight Technologies, a company changing the way we think about carbon emissions by using greenhouse gas as a high-value resource to produce cost-effective, carbon-negative AirCarbon plastics, has successfully completed a Series C financing round, raising $9.2 million from both new and existing investors, and bringing the company’s total capital raise to $18.8 million.

In November 2013,  KI introduced the world’s first carbon-negative chair at Greenbuild 2013 made with AirCarbon–a revolutionary, paradigm-shifting thermoplastic developed by California-based Newlight Technologies. Newlight’s patented manufacturing technology captures carbon that would otherwise be in the air and converts it into AirCarbon. KI will be the exclusive provider of AirCarbon in the contract furniture industry.

Inspired by carbon-capturing processes found in nature, and as a result of Newlight’s breakthroughs in gas conversion yield and polymer performance, AirCarbon-based materials can replicate the performance of oil-based plastics while significantly out-competing on price, representing a market-driven solution to displacing oil, reducing material cost and stabilizing climate change.

In May 2013, nova-Institute GmbH announced that the Innovation Prize for Biomaterial of the Year 2013 awarded to PHA producer Newlight Technologies (USA) at the Cologne International Conference 2013 on Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-based Plastics & Composites. The award was for Newlight’s Airflex™ (AirCarbon™) resins.

Major Milestone Goals

More customer engagements.

Competitive Edge

Previously, 1 kg of biocatalyst was required to make 1 kg of polymer, after which point the biocatalyst would exhibit a negative feedback response, and switch from polymer production to CO2 production. At this yield, the cost of production rendered the material too expensive to compete with oil-based plastics–approximately 3 times higher cost than oil-based plastics.

Newlight’s 9X biocatalyst generates a polymer conversion yield that is over nine times higher than previous–from a yield ratio of 1:1 to 1:9, enabled by developing a new kind of biocatalyst over 10 years of research that does not exhibit a negative feedback response–fundamentally shifting the cost structure of the greenhouse gas to plastic conversion process, and enabling AirCarbon to out-compete oil-based plastics, such as polypropylene and polyethylene, on price. – See more at:


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