A circular process turns captured carbon into chemical precursors for products without the use of fossil fuels
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Spotted: Fossil fuels are not only used for energy production. They also provide the feedstock for a huge variety of chemicals and materials, from plastics to propylene and benzene. Eliminating the use of fossil fuels also means finding a new way to produce these chemicals. Climate tech startup OCOchem believes it has found a way.
Mimicking photosynthesis, OCOchem’s modular technology – the Carbon FluX Electrolyzer – converts CO2 and water into liquid formates. Once the formate products, including formic acid, have been created, OCOchem distils them for the required purity levels for commercial use. These can then be used as sustainable platform molecules to derive a wide variety of chemicals used in everyday products at the same or lower cost as using chemicals made from petrochemicals.
The process is powered using renewable energy and carbon captured from the atmosphere or industrial processes. The result is a circular carbon economy that the company claims could reduce global carbon emissions by more than 10 per cent and enable more localised production of essential chemicals, fuels, and materials.
OCOchem recently raised $5 million (around €4.6 million) in seed funding led by TO VC. Halliburton Labs, an energy and climate tech accelerator associated with Halliburton Company, has also been supporting OCOChem’s work since 2021.
Several innovators are turning to captured carbon as a chemical feedstock. These include a company that has developed a plug-and-play reactor to convert captured CO2 into complex hydrocarbons and a circular economy for anaesthetic gases.
Written By: Lisa Magloff