Conversion Pathways for Bioenergy: Upgrading of Intermediates: Hybrid Routes to Fuels and Chemicals
Laurel Harmon (LanzaTech Inc.) LanzaTech, Inc., was founded in January 2005 by CSO Dr. Sean Simpson in New Zealand. Funds were mainly from New Zealand government US$ 10M, Khosla Ventures US$ 12M in 2007 and Qiming Ventures US$ 18M. More than 60 patents are filed and 3 branches operate in Chicago, USA; Auckland, New Zealand and Shanghai, China.
Laurel Harmon discussed global energy demand doubling over the next 40 years, indicating that carbon reduction and energy security are global issues. Moreover, biofuels remain the primary source of sustainable, alternative transport fuels for the foreseeable future. For these purposes, LanzaTech focuses on research and development of biomass conversion to fuels. LanzaTech’s innovative process enables starches, industrial waste gases, algae and natural oils to convert into ethanol, diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and chemicals. LanzaTech’s novel gas fermentation technology can capture CO-rich gases from steel mills. This hybrid process ferments the biomass-derived syngas that results from the gasification process.
As to commercialization, LanzaTech has operated its pilot plant in BlueScope steel mill in New Zealand since 2008 with a production capacity of 15,000 gallons of ethanol per year. The demonstration plant in Baosteel in China since 2011 has a production capacity 100,000 gallons of ethanol per year. Commercial plant plans anticipate a future production of more than 30 million gallon ethanol per year in Baosteel in China by 2013. LanzaTech employs unique synthetic biology using strain bacteria LZ-1561, a parent of Clostridium autothanogenum, to produce butanol, acetone and propanol from gases; fuel, polymer and chemicals are synthesized in the process via continuous fermentation. LanzaTech was awarded the DARPRA grant to develop the ATJ pathway.
To meet growing energy demand and limited atmospheric CO2 levels, LanzaTech makes efforts to diversify fuel and introduce more than 30% drop-in zero carbon fuels. The LanzaTech process captures a variety of feedstocks including biomass to produce low cost alcohols and other products. Alcohols produce an excellent substrate for conversion to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals. Hybrid routes offer new opportunities to replace the “whole barrel” whilst being economical. LanzaTech collaborates with leading conversion partners, industry agencies, and certification bodies to develop sustainable, low cost, integrated hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals processed from non-food sources.