: Cells, membranes and separators for Carbon Dioxide conversion to formic acid

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Dioxide Materials
3998 FAU Boulevard Unit 300
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


The objective of this project is to develop and energy efficient method to convert CO2 and water to formic acid. Formic acid is widely used in Europe as an alternative to antibiotics in animal feed, and for grain preservation, but it has not been adapted in the US because it is more expensive than other alternatives. The objective of Dioxide Materials work is to make formic acid from a carbon dioxide feedstock, at a cost less than antibiotics or other alternatives and take advantage of the fact that formic acid is generally recognized as safe for human consumption. Key advantages of the work include: 1) Carbon dioxide, that is now a waste product contributing to global warming, will change to a valuable feedstock to produce useful chemicals; 2) farmers will have an economic incentive to switch from antibiotics to formic acid. That will save farmers money and at the same time lead to healthier foods with no residual antibiotics. In our previous Phase II effort, Catalysis of CO2 Conversion into Useful Chemicals, we developed catalysts that could convert CO2 to useful chemicals at high energy efficiency. The effort was tremendously successful. We lowered the energy needed to produce the products by a factor of 2. The work was published in Science and has appeared in over 200 news articles. The objective of the work proposed in this proposal is to move from an efficient catalyst for production of formic acid to a complete system for the production of the formic acid. The system will include all of the parts of the electrolyzer: the cell itself, the membrane, and the anode. It will also include the separation system to purify the product. Our goal is to lower the cost of formic acid by a factor of 2 or more to prices lower than antibiotics or other food preservatives or even of methanol.