Sucking up CO2

Founded: 2016

HQ: Berkeley, CA

Reverse combustion of CO2 into critical products.

Big Picture

Even in a future of 100% clean electricity, many industries from international air travel to chemical manufacturing will very likely continue emitting vast amounts of carbon dioxide for decades to come. So there need to be greater incentives to capture CO2. Government policies will surely help to put some of it back underground, but only if CO2 develops commercial value will we remove it at sufficient scale. 

How it Works

Opus 12 builds devices that bolt onto any source of CO₂, and with only water and electricity as inputs, transforms it into some of the world’s most critical chemical products. You can think of it as a form of industrial photosynthesis. Today their focus is on the production of carbon monoxide (CO). Theirs is indistinguishable from what the chemical industry makes with fossil fuels. 

Unfair Advantage

Their innovation is in the architecture of the membrane electrode assembly. It enables a drop-in technology that converts commercially produced hardware into a CO2-splitting machine capable of making at least 16 chemicals that form the building blocks of countless consumer goods, building materials, and jet fuel. So at once they can de- carbonize industries while making high-margin products.


Valuable molecules

potentially converted from captured CO2


Nicholas worked in McKinsey’s Cleantech practice and was CFO/COO at Levo. He has a MS/MBA from Stanford.


Etosha received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Prior to Stanford, she worked at the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica.


Kendra received her PhD in chemical engineering from Stanford University, where she focused on developing catalysts for electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into fuels and chemicals.

Watt It Takes: The Founder-Engineer Turning CO2 Into Fuels and Materials

Greentech Media

Opus 12: A Profitable Solution to Carbon Emissions


CO₂ as a commodity, not waste: turning emissions into cost-competitive chemicals

The Chemical Engineer

Putting CO₂ Emissions to Work: The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Opus 12

Biofuels Digest

Opus 12 is one startup on a mission to convert CO2 into useful products