What we're building
An artificial carbon cycle that sequesters CO₂ in the form of chemicals and fuels
We have developed a device that recycles CO₂ into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels. Our technology bolts onto any source of CO₂ emissions, and with only water and electricity as inputs, transforms that CO₂ into some of the world's most critical chemical products. We can reduce the carbon footprint of the world’s heaviest emitters, while creating a new revenue stream from what is discarded today as a waste product.
Learning from nature
37,000 trees in a suitcase
We are recreating photosynthesis, but at warp speed. Plants use CO₂, water, and renewable power to produce oxygen and useful carbon-based products. What if we could use the forces of industrialization to replicate nature’s process, and tune it to make the building blocks for petrochemicals, materials, and even jet fuel? And just as a plant uses sunlight to drive this transformation, what if we could use renewable electricity to drive ours?
Core processElectrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide: “reverse combustion”
Our process combines CO₂, water, and electricity to produce higher-energy carbon-based products and a co-product of pure oxygen. This reaction is energetically uphill, so electricity must be added to drive the reaction forward, and it is not possible without a new family of CO₂-reducing catalysts.
CO₂ + H₂O + Electricity → CxHyOz + O₂
Opus 12’s innovation A drop-in component that enables existing technology to transform CO₂
Our core invention combines new catalysts with a novel drop-in component that reprograms existing hardware to split CO₂. It’s a capital-light solution that takes advantage of technology that has been commercialized for decades.
We have partnered with a world-leading manufacturer of the hardware that we are modifying.
History of the field
Origins in the Energy Crises of the 1970s
Like other innovations in the oil and gas sector (including today’s U.S. shale gas fracking boom), the advent of electrochemical CO₂ conversion can be traced to the energy crises of the 1970s. With no domestic oil resources to speak of, Japanese scientists were motivated by the supply shock to find alternative sources of hydrocarbon fuels, and were among the first to demonstrate that a metal catalyst could be used to reduce CO₂ into useful products (Hori, 1982).
When oil prices dropped after the crisis, interest in CO₂ conversion research dwindled, and the field was not revived until the last decade, when the climate change imperative rekindled scientific interest and research funding. The Jaramillo Group at Stanford University is recognized as a world leader in CO₂ electrocatalysis, and Opus 12’s technical co-founders were part of the initial foundation of the CO₂ lab during their graduate studies.
1. Abram, D.N., et al., Platinum and Hybrid Polyaniline-Platinum Surfaces for the Electrocatalytic Reduction of CO2. MRS Communications, 2015: p. 1-7.
2. Hatsukade, T., et al., Insights into the electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 on metallic silver surfaces. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2014. 16(27): p. 13814-13819.
3. Kuhl, K.P., et al., Electrocatalytic Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Methane and Methanol on Transition Metal Surfaces. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2014.
4. Kuhl, K.P., et al., New insights into the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide on metallic copper surfaces. Energy & Environmental Science, 2012. 5(5): p. 7050-7059.