For ages we have been battling dangerous greenhouse emissions and finding alternatives that could curb their production. Newlight Technologies is a Californian biotech company that aims to use these dangerous emissions, couple it with marine plastic pollution and provide a solution that could perhaps be the new face of sustainability. They aim to provide a replacement for several single-use plastics and leathers that lead to degradation of the environment.
Newlight has been working on this project for more than a decade. Its latest creation is a project called “Air Carbon”. The technology uses ocean microbes along with waste greenhouse gasses to create a biodegradable material that is flexible and durable. These can be made into office supplies like chairs, tables, etc. as well as small items like the frames of glasses. The product is completely biodegradable and does not harm the ocean or the aquatic life in any way.
The researchers at Newlight emphasized on creating Air Carbon from a particular strain of ocean microbes. When these microbes consume the gasses, they convert it into a special type of material that can be used to make various parts after their purification. The process was replicated in land-based production tanks where saltwater was combined with the micro-organisms along with methane from an abandoned coal mine. The resultant substance was a fine white powder that could be melted and molded into various shapes.
The process is described to be regenerative in nature as it produces less greenhouses gasses as compared to the ones already present in the air or captured by the AirCarbon. Newlight states that, “for every one kilogram of AirCarbon produced in Newlight’s production process using methane seeping from abandoned coal mines, 8 kilograms of CO2e are sequestered.” As AirCarbon is a natural process using microbes, it also decomposes in the same way.
All the products created are stamped with a “Carbon Date” that clients/users can use to check how the gasses present in the item are processed during its production. This clarity and transparency allow customers to track their carbon footprint and understand how they contribute to the environment.
According to Esquire, “As you hold each [AirCarbon] product, what you’re holding is a chunk of pollution that could have gone into the atmosphere but is instead a fashionable and/or functional product.”
Written by: Aishwarya Kanchan