InterviewUS LanzaTech to start commercial ethanol plant by 2013

24 May 2012 22:36  [Source: ICIS news]

By Doris de Guzman

NEW YORK (ICIS)--US-based industrial biotechnology firm LanzaTech plans to have a commercial ethanol plant in commission by the end of 2013 using waste gas carbon monoxide (CO) as feedstock, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday.

The process uses LanzaTech’s proprietary microorganism – a bacterium in the clostridium family - to ferment CO to produce ethanol, as well as other chemicals, Holmgren noted.

The plant will be in China, and it will cost around $2.50/gal or $75m-125m (€60m-100m), said CEO Jennifer Holmgren in an interview with ICIS.

The ethanol capacity will be 30m-50m gal/year (114m-189m litres/year).

LanzaTech’s partner Baosteel Group, China’s largest steel producer, will put up the capital cost, she noted.

“We are expecting our demonstration plant with Baosteel to achieve its target productivity and process stability by the end of summer. After this we are ready to set up a commercial plant which will take up to 18 months,” said Holmgren.

In April, LanzaTech started operating its 100,000 gal/year ethanol demonstration facility in Shanghai, China, using CO from an adjacent steel mill owned by Baosteel.

The ethanol produced will be used internally within the facility as well as for sample demonstration to LanzaTech’s partners.

LanzaTech and Baosteel last year formed a joint venture called Shanghai Baosteel LanzaTech New Energy, which is responsible for the demonstration plant and for setting up ethanol commercial plants going forward.

LanzaTech is also working with steel producer Shougang Group on a 100,000 gal/year fuel ethanol demonstration plant adjacent to one of Shougang’s steel mill in China. The facility is expected to start in September 2012.

“If we use the steel industry’s CO emissions worldwide, it could produce up to 30bn gal/year of ethanol,” Holmgren said.

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.

Other sources of CO include industrial facilities – particularly fertilizer and mining operations – as well as chemical sites.

In India, Lanzatech has partnered with Concord Enviro Systems (CES) for a 100,000 gal/year fuel ethanol demonstration plant using municipal solid waste for feedstock. The companies expect the ethanol plant to start in December 2012.

In the US, the company purchased a biorefinery in Soperton, Georgia, this year from bankrupt cellulosic ethanol producer Range Fuels.

Additional reporting by Joseph Chang in New York  

($1 = €0.80)

For the latest on bio-based chemicals, visit Doris de Guzman’s ICIS Green Chemicals Blog

By: Doris de Guzman
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