Recycling CARBON DIOXIDE INTO CHEMICALS and Fuels USING AN ELECTROCHEMICAL PROCESS

 
 

team:

Opus 12 co-founders Kendra Kuhl, Nicholas Flanders, and Etosha Cave

Opus 12 co-founders Kendra Kuhl, Nicholas Flanders, and Etosha Cave

Opus 12 was founded at Stanford University, where Etosha Cave, Kendra Kuhl, and Nicholas Flanders bonded over their mutual interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and teamed up to develop their research on carbon dioxide utilization into an economically viable process.  

The Opus 12 team has won the Department of Energy’s Transformational Award as well as multiple grants from the NSF, NASA, and the DOE. They are alumni of the highly selective Stanford StartX accelerator and the Stanford Venture Studio. They have received funding from the Shell GameChanger program and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy to further their work toward a commercial device. They are also supported by the Molecular Foundry user program at Berkeley Lab.


technology:

Critical Need: Unsustainable amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere every year, risking serious changes in the global climate.

 
Sources of stationary carbon emissions in megatons of CO2. Source: Mills, R. (2011). Capturing Carbon. New York, Columbia University Press.

Sources of stationary carbon emissions in megatons of CO2. Source: Mills, R. (2011). Capturing Carbon. New York, Columbia University Press.

 

Technology vision: Opus 12’s technology would enable an artificial carbon cycle that sequesters carbon dioxide in the form of commodity chemicals or creates carbon-neutral fuels, leading to an overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

 
 

Current state-of-the-art: Understanding of carbon dioxide conversion catalysis and reactor design has increased greatly in recent years.  Product selectivity greater than 90% and energy efficiency above 50% have been demonstrated. However, these discoveries have yet to enable a commercial process due to difficulties integrating catalysts into a traditional electrolyzer reactor.

Opus 12's prototype reactor in their lab

Opus 12's prototype reactor in their lab

Key innovation: Opus 12 incorporates novel electrode materials into an existing electrochemical reactor in order to increase the conversion of carbon dioxide at the catalyst’s surface, which will lead to high reaction rates that are stable over time.

Manufacturing challenges: Nanofabrication and integration into novel electrolytic reactor designs.

Competing technology: Because it occurs near room temperature and atmospheric pressure, an electrochemical process has the potential to be more efficient than existing thermochemical routes to the same products.  Electrochemical processes can also be scaled more easily than thermochemical or biological alternatives, allowing them to be applied at small and large carbon dioxide emission sources.

First market hypothesis: One of our initial targets will be onsite generation of syngas.  The selective and energy efficient formation of syngas is the first step toward the production of many carbon-negative materials and carbon-neutral fuels.

Potential for impact: Opus 12 plans to produce syngas, along with ethylene, ethanol, and methane.  Converting all U.S. stationary CO2 emissions into liquid fuels would produce enough carbon-neutral fuel to replace the nation’s gasoline demand twice over. Electrochemical CO2 reduction can also serve as large-scale energy storage, enabling wider adoption of renewable energy.  Opus 12 could offset 1.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually from the chemicals market.

Links:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ja505791r

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2012/EE/c2ee21234j#!divAbstract

Contact: kendra [at] opus-12 [dot] com, cave [at] opus-12 [dot] com, and nicholas [at] opus-12 [dot] com


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