Corrected: Ineos to use municpal waste and algae to make ethanol


This article originally appeared with the headline Ineos goes down the Fischer Tropsch route to ethanol from municipal waste. The process will use algae to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen into ethanol not a chemical catalyst. This has been corrected in the first paragraph.

Ineos is to use municpal waste and algae to make ethanol according to a press release from the company, reported on ICIS news and in newspapers like the Times today.

I like this technology, as you’ll know by now and I think that it is important that it is being widely talked about in the press in the UK. It might help move policy in a direction that I’d favour away from using food as fuel.

Ineos looks to be licensing technology based around Clostridium Ljungdahlii a microbe that likes concentrations of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, and helpfully excretes ethanol.

The technology was reported in Green Car Congress in 2005. It was developed by Bioengineering Resources near Fayetteville, Arkansas.  There is a patent about the Biological production of ethanol from waste gases with Clostridium ljungdahlii on Patent Storm. You’ll need to work your way down to example 10. Good things clearly come too those who dig around a little.

What’s not clear in the releases that I’ve seen is the level of sorting of municipal waste that is needed and the yields using this bacterium. Or whether it would be possible to use it as a way of dealing with plastics waste. Would it be cost effective to mine landfill? And  what are the terms of the relationship with Bioengineering Resources.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to Corrected: Ineos to use municpal waste and algae to make ethanol

  1. Dave Harcourt 22 July, 2008 at 10:16 pm #

    I’m Pretty sure this isn’t Fischer-Tropsch Technology – that CO & H2 high temp & press catalysed to produce petroleum like products.

  2. Gene L. 24 July, 2008 at 12:11 am #

    I’m not personally familiar with either technology, however, I did see that a process for use of Clostridium ljungdahlii was patented in the US back in 2000. Waste gases from industrial processes, and this bacterium ferments “useful” products. Maybe we have promising technology on the near horizon for the many tons of waste we generate every year. I know the US Department of Energy has been very interested in such research and development efforts for years.

    I ran across the patent I mention above thanks to the DOE Office of Scientific & Technical Information ( They have several relatively new systems for searching the web, especially the really deep stuff where Google cannot go. The one I use the most ( searches more than 40 databases of very detailed research reports, plus technical journal articles, with a single query. To my knownledge, no one else is doing this kind of search system work. OSTI even has a similar international program called

  3. Simon Robinson 24 July, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    Hey Gene, Thanks for the really useful links. I’ll be digging around in those when I get some time. Cheers.

  4. larryhagedon 27 July, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    What ever the technology is, it is a big step forward. I am constantly amazed at the innovation being shown all over the world as we move into the Age of Bio-Technology.

    I see more and more companies going to multiple technologies as they strip every possible energy molecule from their feedstocks. That is the answer to the mix of bio, metals and plastics feedstocks in garbage; use the various fermentation and bacterial based technologies first, then finish with pyrolysis of the remaining mass.

    I have been saying for years that we will mine our landfills someday.

    American Flex Fuel Experience.

  5. Simon Robinson 28 July, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    Hey Larry,

    There is no point in throwing any thing away if you can find an alternative valuable use for it. I wonder if there is any work on the total mass of landfill in the US/Europe?

Leave a Reply