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Upcycling Carbon Dioxide: Ethylene Glycol from Cleaned Fossil Carbon Power Production CO2 and Renewable Electricity

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0020615
Agency Tracking Number: 249878
Amount: $200,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 24c
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0002145
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-02-18
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-11-17
Small Business Information
100 Dudley Street Apartment 2346
Jersey City, NJ 07302-6449
United States
DUNS: 081556838
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Anders Laursen
 (917) 200-8343
Business Contact
 Anders Laursen
Phone: (917) 200-8343
Research Institution

The cost of CO2 capture from natural gas and coal power plants threatens to increase the price of energy to the consumer. This work will address the utilization of captured waste carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power generation by converting it into ethylene glycol, a monomer used in the production polyethylene terephthalate PET) plastic. Making a value-added product offsets up to 150% of the CO2 capture costs, ensuring that the reduction in emissions in clean coal plants is economically feasible. Statement of how the problem is addressed: RenewCO2 and Rutgers propose a technology for the synthesis of ethylene glycol from concentrated waste carbon dioxide, water, and renewable electricity. In collaboration with carbon capture technology firms, the team will design the process and equipment to be not only compatible but also scalable to the variation in CO2 sequestration capacity needed. In Phase I, a feasibility study will focus on 1) the increase in production rates to match the process needs, 2) the development of a low capital cost electrolyzer and 3) techno-economic analysis. Phase II will address the scale-up of the process to a pilot plant. Phase II will focus on building a working electrochemical stack and getting the process ready for pilot scale implementation. Phase I of this research project unites experimental testing and techno-economic modelling to accelerate the scale-up of the CO2 upcycling process developed by RenewCO2 and Rutgers. First, the team will increase the productivity of the process reaction rate) by overcoming mass transport limitations of current systems and tuning catalyst formulation. Second, durability studies will be conducted to ensure long-term system performance. Third, the team will tackle high capital costs that present a barrier for entry for companies considering this technology. In that front, the team will investigate different polymers for fabricating electrolyzer components. By utilizing new 2nd generation polymers with conductive and non-conductive fiber reinforcement and greatly enhanced physical properties, we expect to achieve enhanced durability with no loss in performance in the final cells. Finally, the effect of the new materials on the final product cost will be modelled in a comprehensive techno-economic analysis. This is the first and most crucial step for determining the feasibility of the process before commercialization. The global ethylene glycol market is expected to grow at over 4% per year, however fluctuating raw material costs are limiting market expansion. This CO2 conversion technology offers a new and efficient route to produce ethylene glycol from renewable sources, while utilizing waste carbon dioxide from conventional fossil fuel power production, offsetting the cost of capture. Electrosynthesis from carbon dioxide to ethylene glycol has generally been energy inefficient, causing high production cost and preventing commercialization until development of the present technology. This technology will provide new opportunities for efficient chemical production and feedstock diversification, while at the same time reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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