24 May 2012 21:55 [Source: ICIS news]
By Joseph Chang
NEW YORK (ICIS)--US-based industrial biotechnology firm LanzaTech aims to commercialise production of 2,3 butanediol (BDO) from carbon monoxide (CO) by the end of 2014, its chief executive said on Thursday.
“It would be reasonable to have demonstrated our ability to produce this by the end of 2013, start commercialising in 2014, and by the end of 2014 achieve commercial production,” said CEO Jennifer Holmgren, in an interview with ICIS.
The 2,3 BDO, which can be used to make butadiene (BD) for synthetic rubber production, would be produced by fermenting CO with LanzaTech’s proprietary microorganism to make ethanol and 2,3 BDO as co-products, Holmgren noted.
The technology would allow for the production of up to 50% of 2,3 BDO by volume and the rest in ethanol.
The microorganism is a bacterium in the clostridium family, and the process is currently at pilot stage.
LanzaTech’s pilot facility is in Glenbrook, New Zealand, at the site of local metals producer BlueScope Steel.
Holmgren sees steel mills as major sources of CO. Steel mills produce CO as an off-gas and either flare it off, or use it to produce power for operations.
LanzaTech is working with China-based Baosteel, the country’s largest steel producer, to commercialise the production of fuel ethanol from CO. It has a 100,000 gal/year (379,000 litres/year) demonstration facility at one of Baosteel’s sites.
Other sources of CO include industrial facilities – particularly fertilizer and mining operations – as well as chemical sites.
A commercial ethanol/2,3 BDO production plant at a world-class steel mill would have capacity of 30m-50m gal/year, Holmgren said.
The plant would cost around $2.50/gal, or between $75m-125m (€60m-100m), with the steel operator putting up the capital cost, she noted.
LanzaTech would licence the technology and share profits or losses in the product sales, Holmgren added.
Additional reporting by Doris de Guzman in New York
($1 = €0.80)
For the latest on bio-based chemicals, visit Doris de Guzman’s ICIS Green Chemicals Blog
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