LanzaTech in coal-based ethanol demo plant

New Zealand-based LanzaTech and Chinese coal producers Henan Coal and Chemical Industrial Corp. (HNCC) announced their plans yesterday to produce ethanol fuel and chemicals from the gasification of coal using LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology.

The companies will jointly build a 300 tonne/year demonstration plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province, which will initially produce ethanol. The facility will be operational by the second half of 2011. If successful, the companies could also look into building a full-scale commercial facility based on coal-derived synthesis gas.

In a separate agreement, the companies will also establish a Bio Energy Research Center for the development, pilot production and commercialization of the technology of “coal derived synthesis gas to ethanol fuel and chemicals”. LanzaTech said the research center will focus on developing complimentary process technologies such as product separation, water conservation and process integration.

The research lab will also develop other high value added technology and products.

LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren noted that this recent agreement proves the extensibility of their technology, which can use waste gas not only from steel mill but from coal as well.

“Henan has expertise converting coal derived synthesis gas to other fuels and chemicals using thermochemical approaches and this will enable us to do a head to head comparison to understand which steps are best done biologically with our system vs which steps are best done thermochemically,” said Holmgren. “I think this will allow the industry to continue to leverage multiple approaches and pathways to continue to reduce the carbon and energy intensity of making liquid fuels and chemicals.”

In June, LanzaTech formed a joint venture with China’s largest steel and iron conglomerate, Baosteel, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to commercialize LanzaTech’s technologies for producing fuel ethanol from steel mill flue gases.

[Photo of LanzaTech signing ceremony in Henan Province, China]

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