LanzaTech, a clean energy company that had its roots in a small New Zealand laboratory five years ago, is on the top of the biofuels world after winning a prestigious international “Technology of the Year Award”.
Dr Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of LanzaTech, says last week’s Biofuels Digest Award tops off a fantastic year for the company, which now has offices in New Zealand, the United States and China.
The technology awards, first established in 2008, recognize global excellence in the research, development and commercialization of biofuels, renewable chemicals and bio-based products. The awards are voted by the publication’s editorial board, based on nominations submitted by its influential international readership.
LanzaTech is acknowledged as the top company at pilot plant level for its work at NZ Steel at Glenbrook in New Zealand and the agreements it has negotiated in 2010 to scale its technology first to a demonstration and then a commercial plant in China.
“The award acknowledges our work in the steel sector, where we will be converting waste gases from steel mill flues into fuel ethanol,” Dr Holmgren says. “However, we have made rapid progress in other sectors using waste gases from coal production and synthesis gas derived from cellulosic biomass. This year we have also proven the LanzaTech fermentation process is able to produce not only ethanol, but also chemicals.
“Those chemicals include the building blocks for the production of polymers and plastics as well as hydrocarbon fuels, like jet fuel, that are compatible with existing fuel stocks and jet engines, so can be ‘dropped in’ to the existing fuel supply. The biofuels that will succeed must be compatible with existing engines, pipelines and refineries. LanzaTech’s integration of the fuels and chemicals value chain enables economic viability, as well as being environmentally sound.”
LanzaTech is working with the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) on converting some of its chemicals to drop in jet fuel. It is also working with the Chinese Academy of Sciences on research, development and commercialization of related technologies.
This latest award acknowledges LanzaTech’s work with Baosteel, the world’s third largest steel producer, which will see the construction of a demonstration ethanol plant capable of producing around 100,000 gallons (around 380,000 litres) a year. The plant is expected to be producing by late 2011. Fully commercial plants are each expected to produce more than 50 million gallons (around 189 million) of ethanol a year.
Article by Kate R., appearing courtesy Celsias.