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DOE awards LanzaTech $4M for low-carbon jet & diesel demo plant; 3M gpy; Audi evaluating fuel properties

LanzaTech has been 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 LanzaTech award was one of six totaling $12.9 million. (Earlier post.)

The LanzaTech 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). (Earlier post.)

The ATJ technology was initially developed with DOE funding by PNNL and subsequently scaled-up by LanzaTech to produce 4,000 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. (Earlier post.)

LanzaTech captures the waste gas from refineries and manufacturing plants and feeds the CO-rich gas to microbes that consume the gas and produce ethanol. During the second stage of the process, the ethanol is run through a PNNL-developed catalyst that converts ethanol to jet fuel by removing the oxygen and combining hydrocarbons—a process known as dehydration-oligomerization.

The catalyst first removes water from the ethanol (dehydration), leaving behind ethylene. The small ethylene hydrocarbons are then combined (oligomerization) to form hydrocarbon chains large enough for jet fuel without forming aromatics that lead to sooting when burned. The fuel meets all the specifications required for use in commercial aviation

Each gallon of ethanol is converted to produce ½ gallon of aviation fuel.

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.

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.

Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech has raised more than US$200 million from investors including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Qiming Venture Partners, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, Petronas, Mitsui, Primetals, China International Capital Corp, Suncor and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

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