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New pathway uses power to produce formic acid from carbon dioxide

New pathway uses power to produce formic acid from carbon dioxide
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) research scientist Dr. K.C. Neyerlin applies catalyst layers to a cell through a spray process that delivers a more even distribution of material, improving the performance of the cell. Research like this helped inform the current study to generate formic acid from carbon dioxide (photo courtesy Dennis Schroeder / NREL).

New research from US Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories discovers a promising pathway to produce formic acid from carbon dioxide with high energy efficiency and durability using renewable electricity.

Formic acid is a potential intermediate chemical that has a wide range of applications, especially as a feedstock for the chemical or biomanufacturing industries.

Formic acid has also been identified as an input for biological upgrading into sustainable aviation fuel. Identifying routes to efficiently convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to an intermediate chemical that can be further upgraded to fuels or commercially valuable chemicals has been challenging.

The study titled, A Scalable Membrane Electrode Assembly Architecture for Efficient Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Formic Acid, was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The research team led by Dr. K.C. Neyerlin at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with team members from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), investigated several membrane electrode assembly (MEA) configurations in an electrolyzer cell to compare the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to formic acid.

Funded by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), this technology aligns with the BETO-funded CO2 Reduction and Upgrading for e-Fuels Consortium (CO2RUe).

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