China partners with waste-gas developer

By Luke Geiver | February 09, 2010
Posted March 11, 2010

LanzaTech, a New Zealand based developer of waste-to-power for ethanol production technology, has signed a letter of intent to provide the company's technology services to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The free trade agreement with China, the first for a Western country according to a LanzaTech press release, grew out of a visit from CAS Director of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Zhibin Zhang. In March, Zhang toured a LanzaTech laboratory and pilot plant operating at a steel mill in New Zealand and before leaving, signed the letter of agreement.

The technology processes the industrial waste gas streams existing at steel making facilities. LanzaTech employs a proprietary microbe based on its ability to produce ethanol from carbon monoxide. In the past, the concerns of existing contaminants in the waste gas have inhibited the conversion to ethanol production. "LanzaTech's continuous fermentation of raw steel mill gas has shown no impact on microbial viability, growth or productivity when compared to a synthetic gas equivalent," Sean Simpson, co-founder and chief scientific officer for LanzaTech said. "We are able to virtually eliminate capital cost associated with gas conditioning. That's a major advantage over existing gas to liquid gas conversion technologies."

With four of the top ten largest steel producers currently operating in China, LanzaTech believes their technology to convert waste-gas to power an ethanol facility makes China an ideal location. "Since my first meeting in Bejing in November last year, we have come across significant interest in China for our technology," Simpson said.

Zhang agreed, "As the preeminent research and development organization in China, we would like to bring cutting edge technology to China no matter where it is originated from. We look forward to collaborating with LanzaTech to bring its world class technology to China." The actual technology and specifics of the agreement have not been disclosed at this stage in the partnership, according to LanzaTech.