LanzaTech in Coal to Ethanol Project in China; New Bio Energy Research Center

New Zealand-based Lanzatech, the developer of gas fermentation technology for producing ethanol and high value chemicals (e.g.: MEK, Butadiene) from industrial waste gases, has signed a memorandum of understanding with one of the largest coal producers in China, Henan Coal and Chemical Industrial Corporation, to build a demonstration plant to produce ethanol and chemicals via LanzaTech’s fermentation process using syngas resulting from the gasification of coal.

Also signed was a separate three-way letter of intent between LanzaTech, Henan Coal and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) regarding the establishment of a Bio Energy Research Center for the development, pilot production and commercialization of the technology to change coal-derived synthesis gas to ethanol fuels and chemicals.

The companies will jointly build a demonstration plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province, which will initially produce ethanol, and is targeted to be operational by the second half of 2011.

The research center, supported by multiple research institutes under CAS, will focus on developing important complementary process technologies, like product separation, water conservation and process integration. The research center will also focus on developing other high value added technology and products.

LanzaTech says that its microbe is able to use gas feeds containing mainly carbon monoxide and little to no hydrogen. With such feedstocks, the LanzaTech process makes its own hydrogen from the water in the system. This ability to operate in the absence of added hydrogen enables LanzaTech to utilize a broad range of feedstocks from steel mill waste flue gas to gasified biomass and municipal solid wastes and to reduce hydrogen demand in the overall fuels production process.

In August, LanzaTech announced that it had successfully produced 2,3-Butanediol (2,3-BD), a key building block used to make polymers, plastics and hydrocarbon fuels, using the company’s gas fermentation technology. (Earlier post.) In July, the company closed US$18 million in Series B financing from investors led by China-focused venture capital firm Qiming Ventures. (Earlier post.)

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