LanzaTech, China’s largest steel and iron conglomerate, Baosteel Group Corporation, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have launched the construction of a plant that will use LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology for the production of fuel ethanol from steel mill off-gases.
In February the clean technology company and the world’s third largest steel producer signed a joint venture agreement that will see the construction of a 100,000 gallon a year demo plant, with the intention of quickly scaling the model again for the first commercial plant in China. As an important part of the ceremony, the partners have also announced the intention to form a dedicated CAS, Baosteel and LanzaTech Research and Development Center to ensure the continued growth and evolution of this novel technology.
A new joint venture company, Shanghai Baosteel LanzaTech New Energy Company Ltd, has been set up to be responsible for delivering the successful demonstration unit and then a number of commercial production facilities.
In a ceremony in Shanghai today, consultant to LanzaTech and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chairman Vinod Khosla and CEO Dr Jennifer Holmgren joined the President of Baosteel Group, Mr He Wenbo, and the President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr Bai Chunli, to launch the start of construction on the demo plant’s foundations.
Mr He Wenbo says LanzaTech has developed a world leading technology to convert off gases into ethanol and CAS will facilitate the commercialization of such technology.
“What we start today will have huge potential in the Chinese market as it will positively impact the steel mill's recycling operations, and China's new energy development,” he says.
Dr Bai Chunli says that the collaboration between Baosteel, LanzaTech and CAS to construct the demo plant to transform steel mill flue gas into fuel ethanol using biotechnology will blaze a new trail in the development of bioenergy.
“The future CAS, Baosteel and LanzaTech Research and Development Center will not only provide technology support for the demo and commercial facilities but also enable collaboration to develop new technology in bioenergy,” Dr Chunli says.
He also indicated that the collaboration between CAS, Baosteel and LanzaTech is the first test case of international collaboration in the CAS “Biotechnology Innovation and Bio-industry Promoting Program”.
Dr Holmgren says China is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and its need for imported fuel, while continuing to increase its industrial output.
“When our commercial plants, each potentially capable of producing 50 million gallons of ethanol a year, are built throughout China we believe our technology will make a sustainable contribution to meeting China’s renewable energy demands,” she says.
“Who would have thought this possible a couple of years ago? Baosteel is breaking the paradigm that economic growth and industrialization are at odds with an environmentally conscious operating strategy. They are at the forefront of transformational change that will impact the way we integrate the industrial and energy sectors. In addition, we are pleased that the CAS Bureau of Life Science and Technology-Baosteel and LanzaTech R&D Center for Bioenergy will play an active role in advancing this important new area of energy innovation,” Dr Holmgren says.
LanzaTech has now also extended its technology to be able to produce key chemicals for the production of plastics, polymers and drop in fuels from carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as carbon monoxide.
“To be able to produce both fuels and chemicals from these non-food feedstocks and to mitigate reliance on petrochemicals and fossil fuels has huge ramifications for industries around the world that are seeking to reduce their greenhouse gases and find ways to make their processes more economic,” Dr Holmgren says.
Construction of the plant is expected to take six months and production will begin late in the third quarter of this year.