AirCarbon from Newlight Technologies uses ocean microorganisms to convert CO2 into PHB, a readily usable bioplastic.


  • Carbon-negative
  • Reduced waste
  • Scalable


  • Manufacturing
  • Consumer goods
  • Standard and customizable commercial packaging

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

  • Goal 13: Climate Action


  • Ocean micro-organisms

The Challenge

Greenhouse gases are at the highest levels ever recorded. These gases absorb solar energy and keep heat close to the Earth, also known as the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas and is emitted from burning materials like fossil fuels. Additionally, synthetic plastics are made from fossil fuels and can take centuries to decompose.

Innovation Details

AirCarbon™ uses ocean microorganisms to break down excess methane-containing greenhouse gas emissions. The gases are dissolved in saltwater, and the organisms naturally produce PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate) as a byproduct. The PHB can then be used instead of synthetic plastic in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, fiber spinning, and injection molding applications. The microorganisms are able to out-compete the production of oil-based plastics, such as polypropylene and polyethylene. If the material ends up in the ocean it naturally degrades within a year and can be re-consumed as food by microorganisms.

Image: Newlight Technologies / Copyright © - All rights reserved

AirCarbon™ biomaterial.

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Biological Model

Photoautotrophs are species that are able to produce their own food through . As such, plants, algae, and some microbes use carbon dioxide as a feedstock to make energy, food and products. Carbon fixation is part of the photosynthesis process. Sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water are converted to oxygen and organic materials.