OCOchem Awarded $1.5M Grant

OCOchem and global partners awarded Washington state Clean Energy Fund Research Development & Demonstration grant to create green energy power generator for refrigerated cargo containers at the Port of Tacoma.

(Tacoma, WA – March 10, 2022) – The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded clean energy company OCOchem $1.5 million to develop green portable energy generators and fuels for refrigerated cargo containers at the Port of Tacoma.

“We are very honored to receive this grant to demonstrate how recycled carbon dioxide, water and clean electricity can be converted into an electro-fuel to replace fossil fuel use in hard to de-carbonize applications like portable and back-up power. This new green energy will be used at the Port of Tacoma to power new electro-fuel generators to keep Washington fruit cool in refrigerated cargo containers waiting to leave the Port,” said Todd Brix, co-founder and chief executive officer of OCOchem, which is based in Richland, Wash.

“We expect this project to reduce not only CO2 emissions at the Port, but also to cut air pollution emissions generated from the Port’s fossil fuel-based portable generators, making the air safer for nearby residents to breathe, reduce noise pollution, and cut energy costs,” he said.

The Washington Department of Commerce Clean Energy Fund 4 grant adds to the $2.5 million investment OCOchem and its partners have committed to invest on this ground-breaking project.

OCOchem has developed an electrolyzer device that converts recycled carbon dioxide emissions, water and non-fossil fuel-generated electricity into green hydrogen that is embodied in an energy-dense non-flammable liquid hydrogen carrier form, which makes it easier, safer and cheaper to store and transport than hydrogen gas.

Unlike its competitors, OCOchem uses naturally occurring clean formic acid for its liquid hydrogen carrier because it is a non-flammable energy-dense liquid that can be stored in existing storage tanks at ambient temperature and pressure, making it cheaper and safer to store, transport, and use. The goal is for Tacoma Power to use this new electro-fuel technology to replace fossil fuels currently used by diesel generators at the Port of Tacoma and to store energy in a safe, stable energy-dense liquid form.

“The project will demonstrate the compelling economic and environmental use of this new liquid e-fuel technology to decarbonize and electrify mobile, emergency, and back-up power generation applications that currently rely upon diesel and gasoline for commercial and residential applications,” said Cam LeHouillier, Manager of Energy Research and Development of Tacoma Power.

“This approach is as carbon neutral as green hydrogen gas but is much safer, uses existing fuel infrastructure and is delivered at nearly half the price,” Brix said. “We believe Washington state and Tacoma are the best place to manufacture safe green electro-fuels for local and export use, creating high-wage manufacturing jobs.”

Other project partners include Washington Maritime Blue (Tacoma), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (Richland, Wash.), Sacre-Davey Engineering (Seattle), Johnston Engineering (Spokane), and Det Norske Veritas (DNV) (Norway).

OCOchem is a venture-backed clean tech start-up developing and commercializing technology that uses recycled carbon dioxide to store green hydrogen energy in the chemical structure of formates and formic acid, which can then be converted to green hydrogen. OCOchem has received R&D funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and Defense, ARPA-E and is an inaugural member of Halliburton Labs. Founded in 2017 in the Pacific Northwest, OCOchem operates its principal R&D laboratories in Richland, Wash. ­­­­

Tacoma Power is a public utility providing electrical power to Tacoma, Wash. and the surrounding areas. Tacoma Power serves the cities of Tacoma, University Place, Fircrest, and Fife, and also provides service to parts of SteilacoomLakewood, and unincorporated Pierce County. For more information go to mytpu.org.