Updated on 6 September 2012
More recently, the company raised $55.8 million in venture capital led by the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund in January 2012. "Around the same time, we acquired the Freedom Pines Biorefinery in the US, setting up our own first large-scale production facility from waste biomass," says Dr Holmgren. LanzaTech has also secured more than $9 million from New Zealand government as grants to fund process development and scale-up.
The potential impact of the LanzaTech's innovation is significant. "If the potential energy from existing steel mill waste gases is fully utilized, it will bring to the fuel market around 30 billion gallons of ethanol," says Dr Holmgren. "When you consider that it takes two gallons of ethanol to make one gallon of jet fuel, using steel mill gases alone, we could produce 15 billion gallons of jet fuel. This is 19 percent of the current global aviation demand. As the process extends beyond using steel industry waste gases, this is a lower estimate of the impact that LanzaTech's innovative technology can have on the global fuel pool."
Like all start-ups, LanzaTech too has had its share of problems. "Process scale-up has been our greatest challenge. However, our approach to technology development, in which we use real industrial gases in our laboratory, allows us to readily translate advances from the lab to pilot-scale and then to the commercial design," says Dr Holmgren. Another challenge was to enter new markets, such as China and India.
Dr Holmgren says LanzaTech has a rapid commercialization plan. Going forward, they will partner with heavy industry to help them mitigate greenhouse gas emissions promoting manufacturing sustainability, while also adding a new sustainable revenue stream to their existing industry. "These steel companies would be using waste gas streams to produce fuel," she explains. "We also see customers from the field of aviation who are looking at novel approaches to increase the available pool of alternative aviation fuels."