Although there are now a number of systems that capture carbon emissions from smokestacks, many people may still wonder – what is that captured carbon used for? Well, Swiss company On is making shoes out of the stuff.
More specifically, On is utilizing carbon-derived CleanCloud ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam in the midsole of its upcoming Cloudprime running shoes. Ordinarily, that part of the shoe would be made of petroleum-based foam, the production of which actually contributes to global carbon emissions.
Partnering with On are American carbon capture company LanzaTech, Austrian plastics manufacturer Borealis, and French engineering firm Technip Energies.
Production of the CleanCloud foam begins with a LanzaTech system capturing carbon monoxide gas emissions from sources such as steel mills. In a patented fermentation process, “specially selected and naturally occurring bacteria” subsequently convert that gas into liquid ethanol. Technip then dehydrates that ethanol, after which Borealis polymerizes it into the form of small plastic pellets. On then uses those pellets in the production of the foam.
And while the midsole will be the only part of the shoe to incorporate the captured-carbon CleanCloud foam, plans call for other components to be made of other “green” materials.
The outsole, for example, will be composed of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which is chemically upcycled from post-consumer plastic waste by California-based startup Novoloop. And if all goes according to plan, the upper will made of a carbon-emissions-derived polyester-based textile produced by French company Fairbrics.
There’s currently no word on when the Cloudprime running shoes will be commercially available, or at what price. In the meantime, prospective buyers might want to check out existing footwear made from algae and corn.