Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Process development for commercial production of novel polymers(15745)

Novomer, Inc.


Novomer is performing precommercializing activities to develop a series of sustainable polymers made from carbon dioxide. The material is called polypropylene carbonate (PPC) and can be made into a high molecular weight version (high Mw) for consumer packaging and a low molecular version (low Mw) for a number of coating applications. Using a catalyst technology discovered at Cornell University, Novomer’s process allows usually inert carbon dioxide to react with a commodity petrochemical to polymerize a novel green material with significant cost and performance benefits.

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Project Description

The commercialization project will provide the resources needed to synthesize larger batches of PPC and prepare potential products for launch in the packaging and coatings markets. The PPC product runs will be manufactured by Kodak Specialty Chemicals in Rochester at the Eastman Business Park. At least nine production runs are planned at Kodak and the potential exists to produce more material as needed. Leading up to the production runs, Novomer will continue to develop a robust manufacturing process by improving yield, quality, and understanding reaction parameters.


The benefits of the commercializing PPC are not only for a greener solution compared to current materials, but also the potential for lower cost and higher performance in many applications. Novomer projects that by 2018, high Mw PPC will generate energy savings of 5.5 MM barrels of crude oil per year.

Project Results

Over the past year, Novomer, with the help of NYSERDA, and scale-up resources at Kodak, has been advancing the development of a new process to manufacture polypropylene carbonate using a proprietary catalyst system. The process to manufacture both the catalyst and the polymer has been refined and preliminary capability of the process has been established. Some of the key advancements during this time are that process development for the polymerization has leveraged the efficiency of statistically designed set of experiments to quantify the impact of key reaction parameters. Three alternatives for product isolation were also investigated and the primary option identified. Scale-up demonstration of the process was conducted at Eastman Kodak at 25-gallon scale and, to a more limited extent, at Albemarle, at 250-gallon scale. Multiple runs of both the High MW PPC and Low MW PPC have been conducted, and initial capability assessment is in line with economic and product requirements. Analytical process development also has been refined to monitor polymer characteristics, as well as to monitor reaction progress. These methods have been verified with Kodak and Albemarle and will be useful in defining product specifications as the materials move forward. In addition to the polymerization process, the proprietary catalysts were progressed from research scale to kilo scale. Primary and secondary suppliers of raw materials and key intermediates were identified.


Novomer, Inc.
950 Danby Rd Ste 198
Ithaca, NY 14850

Principle Investigator

Ron Valente

Universities Involved


Project Type:

On-site Process Improvement

Technologies Types:

Advanced Materials

NYSERDA Contact Information

Ashley Porubcan


Strategic Operations

Contract Details

Start Date: 2/10/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: 15745

Last Updated: 6/30/2014