Makes plastics go green?
Geoff Coates ’89
Cornell Professor, start-up founder, and chemistry whiz Geoff Coates is working toward solving a huge problem: plastics. While they are cheap and convenient for all kinds of things, they have a devastatingly negative impact on our environment. Geoff wants to change that. “We need to develop synthetic methods that limit energy and raw material consumption, and the new plastic must be better – and cheaper – than what’s out there now.” And that’s exactly what his team at Cornell and his start-up Novomer have done. They’ve engineered a way to trap the carbon dioxide that escapes into the atmosphere to create polyethylene and polypropylene that are then used to make plastics. “It’s 44 percent carbon dioxide by weight, and the cheapest polymer on the planet.” The process earned Novomer the ICIS Innovation Award for Best Environmental Benefit and won backing from the U.S. Department of Energy and partners Albermarle and Eastman Kodak for larger scale production.
That’s a Wabash man for you. Seriously.