California-based Rennovia develops chemicals and chemical processes that are bio-renewable to replace petrochemical production. In a press release, they announced that they have produced a 100% bio-based nylon polymer. Compared with petroleum-based adipic acid, which is used in making nylon polymer 6,6, using their bio-based version could reduce climate change emissions by 85%.
“The production of 100% bio-based nylon-6,6 further validates Rennovia’s unique ability to create technological breakthroughs in the production of bio-based chemicals and materials, with projected significant cost advantages and environmental benefits vs. products produced from petroleum-based feedstocks. Practicing our AA and HMD processes at demonstration scale is the next important milestone for the company, explained the Rennovia CEO. (Source: Green Car Congress)
About six billion pounds of Nylon 6,6 is made every year. It is used in products like carpets, tire cord, ropes, apparel, hoses, blankets, zip ties and even guitars. Rennovia’s nylon 6,6 production process could decrease typical costs 20-25%. It also uses renewable sources.
Their press release raises many questions, such as, how toxic is Nylon 6,6 for long-term exposure to humans? What about to other species? Six billion pounds a year of a material containing chemicals derived from petroleum sounds like a great deal of plastic resin that doesn’t appear to be very environmentally or human friendly.
Another question: does the bio-based polymer generate less toxic gases when it burns? Nylon 6,6 is used in automobiles, so would it reduce toxic gases from fires to use a bio-based version?
Some sources say nylon could be harmful, such as the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, which lists it as a harmful ingredient for babies on their website. Others might say it doesn’t seem to have caused much harm so far, and it is nearly everywhere so it probably isn’t toxic.
Still, if it can be replaced with a cheaper version and made from renewable sources, it sounds like the kind of change that would be sensible. Though it may not be very harmful at all, one less source of petroleum-based chemicals in our environment couldn’t hurt.
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