Liquid Light unveiled its new process for the production of major chemicals from carbon dioxide, showcasing its demonstration-scale “reaction cell” and confirming the potential for cost-advantaged process economics. Liquid Light’s first process is for the production of ethylene glycol (MEG), with a $27-billion annual market, which is used to make a wide range of consumer products such as plastic bottles, antifreeze and polyester clothing.
Liquid Light’s technology can be used to produce more than 60 chemicals with large existing markets, including propylene, isopropanol, methyl-methacrylate and acetic acid.
Liquid Light’s core technology is centered on low-energy catalytic electrochemistry to convert CO2 to chemicals, combined with hydrogenation and purification operations. By adjusting the design of the catalyst, Liquid Light says it can produce a range of commercially important multi-carbon chemicals. Additionally, by using co-feedstocks along with CO2, a plant built with Liquid Light’s technology may produce multiple products simultaneously.
Liquid Light’s advances that enable commercialization include the development of long-lasting catalyst components; the ability to run continuously for extended times; and major progress in energy efficiency. Results to date highlight promising economics in three key dimensions:
Process performance validated at lab scale: In test runs, Liquid Light has met the targets needed for cost-advantaged production in metrics including energy needed per unit of output; rate of production; yield; and stability/longevity of cell components.
Large savings in feedstock costs: Liquid Light’s process requires $125 or less of CO2 to make a ton of MEG. Other processes require an estimated $617 to $1,113 of feedstocks derived from oil, natural gas or corn. These differences are especially significant as MEG sells for $700 to $1,400 per metric ton.
High project value for technology licensees: Current estimates show that a 400kT per year Liquid Light MEG plant would offer more than $250 million in added project value as compared to a plant built using the best currently available process technology. A 625kTa plant would have a 15 year net present value of more than $850 million to a licensee.
Liquid Light’s process also reduces the overall carbon footprint for chemical production compared to conventional methods, when powered with electricity produced from natural gas, nuclear, advanced coal and renewable sources. Further, Liquid Light’s process can sequester carbon when using energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind or nuclear power. To further demonstrate this potential benefit, the company also showed the process can be powered by intermittently-available renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The result is that chemicals can be made directly from renewable energy sources and CO2.
Liquid Light’s investors include VantagePoint Capital Partners, BP Ventures, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, and Osage University Partners.