Biofuel firm LanzaTech wins US grant to build demonstration plant

LanzaTech co-founder and chief scientific officer Dr Sean Simpson.

LanzaTech co-founder and chief scientific officer Dr Sean Simpson.

Biofuel company LanzaTech has been granted a $4-million grant by the US government to take its next major step in making sustainable jet fuel and diesel.

Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech is now headquartered in Chicago where it is working to advance its technology for turning industrial waste gases into low-carbon fuels.

The grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) will enable the company to create a demonstration-scale facility which will produce three million gallons a year of Lanzanol, an ethanol extracted from steel manufacturing gases.

A scientist at work in LanzaTech's Auckland labs, which works alongside its Chicago-based headquarters.
LARNIE NICOLSON

A scientist at work in LanzaTech's Auckland labs, which works alongside its Chicago-based headquarters.

Both Lanzanol and another ethanol created from agricultural residues are then converted into fuel via a process developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and scaled up by LanzaTech.

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​The fuel has been tested on a flight with Virgin Atlantic with hopes that a commercial aviation plant will be built, possibly in Britain.

Initial analyses suggest the new fuel will produce carbon savings of 65 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel

LanzaTech is currently building commercial ethanol facilities using waste gases in China with China's largest steel company, Shougang, and 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".

Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech's chief executive, said economics and sustainability were the keys to finding alternative aviation fuels. 

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"Jet fuel accounts for as much as 40 per cent 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."

 - Stuff

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