US carbon recycling company LanzaTech has been selected by the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to receive a $4 million award to design and plan a demonstration-scale facility using industrial off gases to produce 3 million gallons/year of low carbon jet and diesel fuels. The facility will recycle industrial waste gases from steel manufacturing to produce a low cost ethanol intermediate “Lanzanol”. Both Lanzanol and cellulosic ethanol will then be converted to jet fuel via the “Alcohol to Jet” (ATJ) process developed by LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
The ATJ technology was initially developed with DOE funding by PNNL and subsequently scaled-up by LanzaTech to produce 4000 gallons of sustainable jet fuel from Lanzanol and other sources, as well as 600 gallons of diesel fuel, for fuel quality testing, certification and a proving flight with Virgin Atlantic.
LanzaTech is currently building its first commercial ethanol facilities using waste gases, including one in China with China’s largest steel company, Shougang, and one in Belgium with the world’s largest steel manufacturer, ArcelorMittal. In the DOE funded project, LanzaTech will work with ArcelorMittal to evaluate US opportunities for leveraging this expertise to demonstrate an entirely new pathway to low carbon fuels from industrial wastes that are either flared or underutilized.
“Economics and sustainability are key to realizing the potential of alternative aviation fuels,” said Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech CEO. “Jet fuel accounts for as much as 40% of an airline’s operating costs and the sector has made substantial commitments to reduce their CO2 emissions by 2025. So fuels must address both of these needs to succeed at commercial scale. Thanks to the Department of Energy, the partners in this project will accelerate the commercial production of low cost, low carbon jet, gasoline and diesel in the United States.”
To demonstrate process versatility, ethanol from other waste gas streams will be converted, including cellulosic ethanol produced via fermentation of biomass syngas by Aemetis. Ambitech, an Illinois-based engineering company, will be LanzaTech’s engineering partner with additional engineering contributions from Aemetis. Other project partners include PNNL; technology providers Petron Scientech, CRI Catalyst Company, Nexceris and Gardner Denver Nash; Michigan Technological University, who will be evaluating the environmental footprint of the fuels being produced; and Audi, who will support by evaluating diesel and gasoline fuel properties. In addition the project has received support from Airlines for America (A4A) and the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), an aviation industry consortium focused on the near-term development and commercialization of sustainable alternative jet fuel for the aviation enterprise.
According to Suresh Baskaran, Chief Science and Technology Officer for the Energy and Environment Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, “The ability to produce tightly-specified aviation fuel or, alternatively, high-cetane diesel is a unique feature of this technology that will enhance its competitiveness in U.S. as well as global markets.” Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis, stated: “We look forward to deepening our relationship with LanzaTech and using our cellulosic ethanol produced from California agricultural residues, to power jet planes and diesel trucks in the future.”