Novomer turns emissions from ammonia plant into polymers

Waste carbon dioxide has been incorporated into a polymer at bulk scale. The resin can be used as a feedstock in existing polyurethane products, providing a sustainable way to divert carbon emissions away from the atmosphere.

US company Novomer’s catalytic process reacts CO2 with propylene oxide to make short-chain polypropylene carbonate (PPC) diols. The diols contains around 40% CO2 by weight, and can be further combined with di-isocyanate feedstocks to make a range of polyurethane plastics for different applications.

This pilot run used purified CO2 waste from an ammonia plant – purified to beverage grade – to make 7 tonnes of PPC diol with a molecular weight of around 1000. Novomer says that, in the long term, its preferred source of waste CO2 would be an ethanol fermentation plant, but this was not convenient for the initial process run. The plant was provided by speciality chemical company Albemarle, and required only minor modifications to be compatible with Novomer’s process.