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Nike Supplier Selects Black & Veatch to Design ‘Aircarbon’ Plant

Looking to significantly expand its regenerative practice of transforming air and greenhouse gas into a material called “Aircarbon,” Newlight Technologies has chosen decarbonization solutions specialist Black & Veatch to design the biotechnology company’s first commercial-scale plant in Ohio.

Newlight uses a nature-inspired technology found in ecosystems throughout the world, including in the ocean, where naturally occurring microorganisms consume air and greenhouse gas through fermentation to produce a muscle-like material inside of their cells called PHB. It’s an energy storage material made in most living organisms–from marine microorganisms to the roots of plants–and can be melted into shapes as a replacement for plastic.

Aircarbon competes on performance with various grades of polypropylene, the second largest-volume plastic in the world. With a variety of potential industries to serve, Newlight’s primary focus is on delivering material for the fashion, foodware and automotive industries.

Customers and partners of Newlight, which launched its first commercial-scale Aircarbon production facility in 2020, include Nike, Target, H&M, Shake Shack, Ben & Jerry’s, Sumitomo, US Foods and Sysco, with millions of Aircarbon units delivered to consumers to date. In fashion, the company is using Aircarbon to making Covalent-brand regenerative, carbon-negative products, starting with eyewear and leather replacements.

“Newlight’s goal is to help provide scalable, market-driven solutions to solving plastic pollution and climate change,” said Mark Herrema, Newlight CEO. “The Ohio plant will move us another step closer to our goal of large-scale impact, and we are thrilled to partner with Black & Veatch as part of that.”

Kevin Currence, project director at Black & Veatch, said at a time when concerns about climate change and ocean plastic “are at the forefront of the push to make the world cleaner and greener,” Newlight embodies the “innovative spirit needed to make a difference in our environment.”

“This project that aligns with our values and our company emphasis on accelerating sustainability across all of the markets we serve,” Currence added.

Black & Veatch is an employee-owned global engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company, with 2021 revenues of about $3.3 billion.