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On-Site Formate Production



OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate methods to enable distributed production of potassium formate. 

DESCRIPTION: The ability to manufacture materials near their point of use is a priority for the crosscutting Sustain and Train Cross Functional Team (CFT) in the Army Modernization Priorities. For example, chemical deicing represents about one-third of winter maintenance expenditures for bases and municipalities. Currently sodium chloride is often used to deice road surfaces despite concerns about corrosivity, to both motor vehicles and infrastructure, and environmental impact including vegetation damage through chloride uptake, soil damage through sodium accumulation, and drinking water contamination. This effort seeks the development of methods for onsite production using waste carbon dioxide from point source at moderate conditions (low pressure and temperature) on posts/bases of potassium formate which is an environmentally friendly/low corrosion deicing material (reference 2). Recent results show that electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide to form formates is possible. This approach could enable systems that utilize inexpensive and readily available materials and would economically produce potassium formate in a form readily usable for roadway and runway deicing. 

PHASE I: Explore catalysts and processes to electrochemically reduce carbon dioxide to produce formate under moderate conditions. Characterize system efficiency and byproducts as a function of reaction conditions to achieve >75% process efficiency. Provide 5 lbs of formate generated using the laboratory system. Determine system degradation mechanisms to enable system life of >8000 hours. Demonstrate at laboratory scale a system capable of producing potassium formate under moderate conditions (<100 psi, and <100 degrees Celsius), Prepare analysis of cost/pound of formate focusing on the use of nonflammable, inexpensive, readily available starting materials. Estimate scaled up production costs. 

PHASE II: Continue process/catalyst optimization. Build and deliver a system capable of generating 20 lbs/day of potassium formate under moderate conditions using waste carbon dioxide and low cost/readily available materials in a cost effective manner. Demonstrate operation of the system for a minimum of 5 days, generating 100 lbs of material. Determine and optimize operation costs and system efficiency which should be >85%. Ideally the system will be capable of utilizing intermittently renewable energy sources. Goal should be to achieve production cost including cost of starting materials of <$800/ton of potassium formate. 

PHASE III: Build a system capable to producing 100s of lbs/day of potassium formate using renewable energy sources under moderate conditions that uses safe, readily available, and inexpensive starting materials. Goal should be to achieve production cost <$800/ton of potassium formate. This system could be used on posts/bases or municipalities and airports for roadway and runway deicing and reduce corrosion and environmental impact associated with road salt. 


1: P. Kang

2:  S. Zhang

3:  T. J. Meyer

4:  M. Brookhart, Rapid Selective Electrocatalytic Reduction of Carbon Dioxide to Formate by an Iridium Pincer Catalyst Immobilized on Carbon Nanotube Electrodes. Angew. Chem. Int. Edit. 2014. 53 (33), 8709-8713.

KEYWORDS: Potassium Formate, Deicing, On-site Production, Manufacturing At Point Of Need 

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