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OCOchem awarded DOE funding

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Hydrogen Review,

Clean fuel and chemical innovator, OCOchem, and the US Department of Energy (DOE)'s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will continue a successful collaboration to make it safer and more affordable to transport clean hydrogen, thanks to a new US$2.5 million DOE funding award.

The award is one of 22 projects in 14 states totaling US$42 million in DOE funds to advance critical technologies for producing, storing, transporting and deploying clean hydrogen, a non-polluting energy source.

The award will fund a continuing partnership between OCOchem and PNNL, both based in Richland, Washington, US. OCOchem is focused on making a chemical building block - formic acid - electrocatalytically from recycled carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, water, and clean electricity. PNNL is developing a way to safely release clean hydrogen from formic acid. The work builds on a partnership between the two entities funded by a 2020 DOE Technology Commercialization Fund grant and represents a significant milestone in the pursuit of a sustainable energy future.

Clean hydrogen is gaining momentum as a viable solution for decarbonizing various sectors, including transportation, industry, and power generation. Hydrogen has the potential to serve as a versatile, carbon-free energy carrier that can be produced from renewable resources. However, significant technological and economic challenges need to be overcome to fully realise hydrogen's potential including, most importantly, the high cost of hydrogen storage and transport, which represents more than 70% of the cost of the clean hydrogen production and distribution supply chain.

OCOchem will use the funds to enhance and increase the size of its Carbon Flux ElectrolyzerTM, which is used to make formic acid from recycled CO2 emissions, water and clean electricity. By building the world's largest CO2 electrolyser, OCOchem will be able to scale and improve the device to commercialise the technology. The formic acid that will be made from the process can be used in many ways, including as a liquid carrier of clean hydrogen, so that hydrogen can be stored and transported as a stable, non-flammable, energy-dense liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, thus making it both safer and less costly to distribute. PNNL will scale its technology to create a hydrogen generator that releases hydrogen from the formic acid.

"The beauty of this strategy is that we are combining hydrogen production and storage in a single step, while simultaneously sequestering CO2," said Tom Autrey, a PNNL chemist and collaborator on the project.

The project aims to significantly improve the overall safety and cost profile of the hydrogen supply chain from production, storage, transport and use in various applications. By collaborating, OCOchem and PNNL aspire to make clean hydrogen technologies more economically viable, scalable, and accessible for widespread adoption. Both entities expect to have their technology ready for commercial use by early 2025.

"The world needs a better way to make, store and use clean hydrogen as a clean fuel and clean feedstock to decarbonise industries and transportation," said OCOchem CEO and Co-Founder, Todd Brix. "We're making a liquid hydrogen carrier that enables us to more safely and more cost-effectively make and distribute clean hydrogen so it can be used in more places by more people. We are helping to create a circular carbon economy that stops the build-up of CO2 in our atmosphere and helps lower the cost of everyday products we consume and use. We are excited to continue working with PNNL and contribute to the local economy with these ground-breaking technologies."

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