Carbon capture and storage (CCS) seems like a great idea in theory–just stuff CO2 billowing out of coal plants underground, where it will be safely tucked away for centuries. But the technology hasn’t been proven to work on a large scale, and even if its, questions will linger about what happens in the event of an earthquake (do massive amounts of CO2 get released). A Boston start-up called Novomer has come up with a safer alternative to the carbon capture scenario: turn CO2 and carbon dioxide into plastics and chemicals.
Novomer, which today raised $14 million in venture funding, buys carbon from third parties to make a product called “NB-180”. The material, constructed partially from recycled CO2, acts as a binder to hold together pieces of metal during the manufacturing process for products including electronics, solar panels, and fuel cells. In the future, Novomer wants to make products for broader commercial use, though the company hasn’t revealed what said products might look like.
Novomer isn’t the only company to experiment with new ways to store CO2. California-based Carbon Sciences has invented a process that it claims can turn CO2 into the building blocks for gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel. And Calera Corporation has come up with a way to turn CO2 into cement. None of these ventures, however, are close to commercial production, which means CCS is unlikely to disappear from the public dialogue any time soon.