Etosha Cave

Etosha Cave

Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer

Twelve (formerly known as Opus 12)

Co-founder and Chief Science officer of TwelveTwelve, formerly Opus 12

Nominated by Alexander Karsner

Etosha R. Cave is an American mechanical engineer based in Berkeley, California. She is the co-founder and chief science officer of Twelve (formerly known as Opus 12) a startup that recycles carbon dioxide. Cave grew up in Houston, where she became interested in recycling oil and gas. During high school, she joined the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and held an NSBE Scholarship. After graduating, she worked at the McMurdo Station, where she serviced HVAC systems and built the laser diode for future NASA missions. Eventually, Cave returned to her studies and started a doctoral program at Stanford University working under the supervision of Thomas F. Jaramillo. During her Ph.D., she worked on electrochemical approaches that could be used to convert carbon dioxide and water into useful plastics and household cleaners. She built a gas analysis system that could determine the composition of electrochemical reactions in real-time and earned her Ph.D. in 2015.

While at Stanford University, Cave co-founded Twelve, a start-up that uses metal catalysts to recycle carbon dioxide. Today Twelve is based at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has secured several academic partnerships, including funding from the National Science Foundation and I-Corps program. Cave hopes that they will be able to make diesel fuel from recycled carbon dioxide and water. Cave discussed this idea at TEDx Stanford, where she explained the recycled carbon dioxide could reduce our carbon footprint as well as supporting future space travel. Twelve’s first product will be the size of a dishwasher. Twelve was awarded the Forbes magazine Change the World Award and was selected for the Advanced Manufacturing Office Cyclotron Road program in 2016. Cave was a finalist for the Carbon Xprize in 2018.