The Cornell spin-out has devised a catalytic process that it believes could potentially solve a few big waste problems. The company effectively transforms captured carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into binders and other chemicals for the plastics industry.
Thus, in one swoop, you get reduction of atmospheric carbon, carbon credits in jurisdictions that recognize them, reduced demand for oil, and a method for giving captured carbon an economic value beyond carbon credits.
Industrial chemicals also often sell for far higher prices than oil or gas. Thus, companies like algae makers like Biolight Harvesting are focusing more on chemicals than fuel.
The sticking point, as seen with other bioplastic and green chemical companies, is the price. Making binders from pollution isn't cheap. Novomer's binders, which contain 40 percent carbon dioxide, cost between $50 and $200 per pound in 2008, compared with an average cost of between $50 and $125 per pound for traditional electronics-industry binders.