Biofuel, Company initiatives, Partnership

LanzaTech, Siemens on CO2-based ethanol production

LanzaTech’s microbial gas fermentation technology demonstrated at a 300 ton pre-commercial plant at one of Baosteel’s steel mills outside Shanghai in 2012.

Technology firm Siemens and its subsidiary Siemens Metals Technologies announced a partnership with LanzaTech for a 10-year collaboration to develop and market integrated solutions for the steel industry utilizing LanzaTech’s fermentation technology for converting waste gases from iron and steel mills into ethanol and other platform chemicals such as acetic acid, acetone, isopropanol, n-butanol or 2,3 butanediol.

The companies will work together on process integration and optimization as well as on marketing and realization of customer projects. The global iron and steel industry is said to contribute 6.7% to the worldwide CO2 emissions. One metric ton of steel = 1.8 metric tons of CO2, and these gases are currently just released in the air (flared) or used as heat and source of electrical energy within the plant.

LanzaTech said its technology does not compete with food production unlike ag-based bioethanol, and that its CO2 emissions are between 50-70% lower than petroleum-based fuels, and one-third lower compared to electricity produced from off-gases of steel mills.

LanzaTech is already operating two pre-commercial facilities in China, converting flue gas from Baosteel and Shougang steel plants into ethanol, each with a capacity of 300 tons/year. The company is planning to begin construction on two commercial facilities in China this year with start-up expected in 2014. Siemens and LanzaTech are reportedly already pursuing several commercial gas fermentation project opportunities worldwide.

Siemens is not new to the bio-based chemicals sector and in fact, has participated in the development of a bioplastic alternative to petroleum-based acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) polymer using carbon dioxide and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) for raw materials. Siemens’ global research unit and its partners BASF are now looking to examine whether they can replace other types of plastics with this CO2-based composite materials.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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