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Carbon Tech Startup Locates R&D Facilities In Research District

OCO Corporation, a venture-backed carbon-tech startup company located their research and development facilities in the Applied Process Engineering Laboratory (APEL), located in the Tri-Cities Research District (TCRD).

OCO is currently commercializing patented technology to build a novel process device, known as an electolyzer, to convert carbon dioxide and water using zero-carbon sources of electricity, such has hydro, nuclear, solar or wind, into a valuable chemical known as formic acid. Formic acid is a naturally occurring chemical with many industrial and agricultural applications. It is increasingly used as an energy storage fuel in Europe as a way to store renewable hydrogen. The company won its first contract with the US Army in Augustand has R&D partnerships with four national laboratories including two projects with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), also located within the TCRD. In addition, OCO received five separate grants from the US Department of Energy.

OCO initially considered the Tri-Cities in 2018. Similar to GT Medical Technologies that located at APEL earlier this year, OCO’s decision to locate to the Tri-Cities was based on the availability of pre-permitted wet lab space at APEL and proximity to PNNL, Energy Northwest and WSU Tri-Cities. Also, the area’s reasonable cost of living and state’s tax structure played a role. OCO secured 1,500 square feet of space and has four employees, both of which they hope to double over the next year. Todd Brix, OCO’s CEO said “The Tri-Cities is the best region, hands down, in the entire country. We’re just glad we’re here.”

About the author

C. Mark Smith is an active Tri-Citian, volunteering his time and services to several local community and economic development organizations. He lives with his wife Elsa, in Richland, Washington.