High Aspect Ratio CO2 Reduction Electrolyzer via Novel Gas Diffusion Electrode - Design

ARPA-E Project Image

Special Projects
Project Term:
07/20/2021 - 07/19/2022

Critical Need:

This topic seeks to support entrepreneurial energy discoveries, by identifying and supporting disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies within small businesses and collaborations with universities and national labs. These projects have the potential for large-scale impact, and if successful could create new paradigms in energy technology with the potential to achieve significant reductions in U.S. energy consumption, energy-related imports, or energy-related emissions. These specific projects address technology areas across ARPA-E’s mission spaces, with particular focus on: Advanced bioreactors; Approaches and tools to create enhanced geothermal systems; Non-evaporative dehydration and drying technologies; Approaches to significantly enhance the rate and/or potential scale of carbon mineralization; Separation of CO2 from ambient air (direct air capture); High-rate separation of dissolved inorganic carbon from the ocean to produce a CO2 stream; Advanced trees and other engineered biological systems for carbon sequestration; Innovative deep ocean collector designs for mining polymetallic nodules; Environmental sensors capable of operation in deep ocean environments for mining polymetallic nodules; and Non-carbothermic smelting technologies. Awards under this topic are working to support research and establish potential new areas for technology development, while providing ARPA-E with information that could lead to new focused funding programs. The focus of these projects is to support exploratory research to establish viability, proof-of-concept demonstration for new energy technology, and/or modeling and simulation efforts to guide development for new energy technologies.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

OCO Inc. (OCO) proposes to build a tall (1800 cm2 ) electrochemical cell, addressing a critical scale-up issue for many processes seeking to convert carbon dioxide into useful products. The cell will be used to convert carbon dioxide, water, and renewable electricity into formic acid. The project will integrate multiple innovative electrolyzer components and materials into a first-of-its-kind single design. If successful, the new process will reduce the cost of formic acid 33%, be based exclusively on renewable energy and feeds, and avoid the use fossil-based inputs. Formic acid has several commercial uses today and could be a building block for future chemical routes based on “recycled” carbon dioxide. This project could open up new options for converting carbon dioxide into many useful products.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Dr. Arun Agarwal
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

Related Projects

Release Date: