Following four years of research, Swiss sneaker brand On has announced the Cloudprime, a running shoe made using carbon emissions. By collaborating with chemical manufacturer LanzaTech, energy company Technip Energies and plastics manufacturer Borealis, On has produced the EVA foam for the Cloudprime’s midsole from an unlikely source: Industrial pollution.
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Here’s how it works. LanzaTech captures carbon monoxide from steel mills, landfill sites and other industrial-scale polluters. They then combine those emissions with bacteria first identified in rabbit droppings (not kidding), which ferments the mixture into liquid ethanol. The company says the process is similar to what happens at a brewery, with sugar and yeast swapped out for carbon monoxide and the rabbit-poopy bacteria.
The ethanol is then handed over to Technip Energies, who have the technology to dehydrate the ethanol into ethylene. That ethylene is then given to Borealis, who polymerizes it into EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) foam, which On dubs CleanCloud™.
For brevity’s sake, I’ve grossly condensed the development story of the material; if you’re into chemistry and the challenges of setting up a supply chain from scratch, I highly recommend you read the full CleanCloud development backstory here.
The Cloudprime is currently being tested by elite Swiss and German athletes, who are evaluating it for performance. On hasn’t mentioned a specific release date, and will only say “Our ambition is to bring the CleanCloud™ technology to as many consumers as possible in the near future.”