SBIR Phase II: Onsite Production of Carbon Monoxide from Carbon Dioxide using Modified Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Electolyzers

Period of Performance: 09/15/2017 - 08/31/2019


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Opus 12 Incorporated
2342 Shattuck Ave Num 820
Berkeley, CA 94704
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is in the development of new carbon dioxide utilization technology for the commercialization of onsite gas production. The impediment to electrochemical carbon dioxide utilization technology has been the lack of an electrolyzer design capable of high production rates and high energy efficiency. This project will yield a novel electrolyzer component to overcome these challenges and demonstrate that cost-effective carbon dioxide utilization is possible. This component can be integrated into existing electrolyzer designs, and will enable such hardware to convert carbon dioxide into specialty gases. The resulting solution will have higher safety and lower cost than conventional packaged gas. Long term, this technology could be scaled up to higher volume applications, and used as a means of converting industrial carbon dioxide emissions into useful chemicals and fuels, thereby transforming a waste product into a new revenue stream. This scalable technology could therefore be the basis for the creation of new economic value and advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States, while providing a profitable way for existing U.S. industries to reduce their emissions. This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project will build upon the promising feasibility results achieved in Phase I to increase the performance of a novel carbon dioxide electrochemical cell along key performance dimensions, in order to deliver a commercially-relevant, cost-competitive solution. A viable solution to derive specialty gases from a low-cost feedstock like carbon dioxide will need to have high performance on several dimensions: energy efficiency, high reaction rates, long lifetime, and low capital cost. It will also need to operate at a scale that is industrially relevant. In Phase II, the novel electrochemical component will be scaled up to commercial dimensions, and the performance of the component will be optimized to meet the performance requirements identified during customer interviews. The final component will form the basis for a commercial unit, capable of producing specialty gases from carbon dioxide at cost-competitive rates. It will lay the foundation for future scale-up to even larger membrane areas, which will enable industrial-scale applications of this carbon dioxide conversion technology. Carbon dioxide emissions could be converted into valuable products using this technology.