Locations: HQ in Chicago, IL further locations in China, New Zealand, India and the UK
Like many other routes to bioethanol and bioproducts, LanzaTech’s process involves biological conversion of carbon to bioethanol that can be blended with gasoline for automotive transport. LanzaTech produces bioethanol through gas fermentation using microbes (bacteria) that grow on gases, rather than sugars, as in traditional fermentation. The process uses a proprietary microbe to capture the carbon in the gas streams and is feedstock flexible, using gases as varied as industrial flue gas, gasified biomass wastes and residues and other CO2 and/or methane-rich waste gas streams.
When gas fermentation is deployed at a steel mill, instead of sending a residual gas stream to a flare or power generation unit, it is injected into a fermentation vessel containing proprietary microbes and liquid media. The microbes continuously grow by consuming CO/CO2/H2 and as a byproduct of this growth, they make ethanol and chemicals that can be recovered from the fermentation broth.
LanzaTech’s bioprocessing platform offers an economically robust route to carbon capture and re-use, capturing not only the carbon that would otherwise have been emitted into the atmosphere, but also displacing the fossil fuel feedstocks that would have been used in making these fuels and chemicals. This technology has the potential to be increasingly disruptive as its product suite is broadened to a growing portfolio of commodity chemicals and hydrocarbon fuels, including jet fuel. The technology has been demonstrated at scale in China and Taiwan using off gases from steel mills. Additional demonstration units in Georgia and Asia are using gasified woody biomass and MSW respectively. The process as implemented at the Beijing Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Science & Technology Co., Ltd. demonstration facility has been certified as a sustainable biofuel production process by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).
Emission and Environmental Impact
LanzaTech has worked with a number of third parties, including Michigan Technological University (MTU), E4Tech, and Tsinghua University to study the environmental impact of its gas fermentation process for a range of process inputs and end products.
These studies have shown that the LanzaTech gas fermentation process can produce fuels from steel mill off-gases with greenhouse gas emissions that are up to 70% lower than those of fossil fuels. The carbon savings in the LanzaTech process are continually improving with the technology development. Not only does LanzaTech process offer the opportunity to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of transportation fuels, it can also reduce of local air pollutants such as particulate and NOx emissions by as much as 80% or more. In terms of broader environmental impact, the process does not compete with food for either land or water, because plants are located on existing industrial land and process water is recycled.