Dioxycle ($17M to produce ethylene, CO, methanol, ethanol using CO2, electrolyzer, and renewable energy)

Dioxycle, a French-American cleantech startup founded in 2021, develops electrolyzer technology that uses a CO₂-rich solvent from, for example, a Direct Air Capture unit or an industrial exhaust CO₂ capture system to turn CO₂ into valuable products like carbon monoxide, ethylene, methanol, and ethanol. These products can be further transformed into drop-in fuels. By converting CO₂ emissions into useful products, Dioxycle aims to decarbonize industries with unavoidable CO₂ emissions in their processes.

Challenges: carbon emissions

Since the early 1900s, carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels in the atmosphere have increased by 50% due to human activities. When fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) are burned for energy production, transportation, and industrial processes, CO₂ is released into the atmosphere. This excess CO₂ acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat and causing the air and ocean temperatures to rise. CO₂ emissions play a crucial role in driving climate change.

This warming effect has caused the global average temperature to rise by about 1.1 ºC since the pre-industrial period. This has led to rising in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, melting of polar ice caps and glaciers and rising sea levels, shifts in species ranges and increased risk of species extinction, agriculture and food security,  and ocean acidification.

To mitigate these impacts, the Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2 ºC above pre-industrial levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that a “carbon budget” of about 500 GtCO₂, which corresponds to about ten years at current emission rates, provides a 66% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ºC.

Dioxycle Technology

Dioxycle develops electrolyzer technology that turns CO₂ into valuable products at low temperatures. The electrolyzer inputs a CO₂-rich solvent stream that can be from a Direct Air Capture unit, a seawater CO₂ capture system, or an industrial exhaust CO₂ capture system and reduces CO₂ at cathodes to valuable products, such as carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH₄), ethylene (C₂H₄), propylene, dimethyl ether, ethanol, propanol, formic acid, as well as other achievable products, such as alkane, alkene, carboxylic acid, alcohol, aldehyde, or ketone.

Dioxycle electrolyzer

The electrolyzer stack comprises a plurality of cells arranged in a stack. Each electrolyzer cell has a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) between two polar plates. The membrane selectively allows the flow of reactants across the membrane from the cathode or anode to the opposite electrode. The diagram below depicts the structure of an Dioxycle electrolyzer cell.

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