Updated on 18 March 2013
The company' pre-commercial facility with China's leading steel producer, Baosteel, in Shanghai also became operational in 2012 for the production of ethanol. China's National Development and Reform Commission also reported that the waste gas to ethanol project met international standards of gas conversion rates, while giving it the green signal to enter the commercialization phase. LanzaTech's second pre-commercial facility using steel mill waste gases has been constructed near Beijing in partnership with Capital Steel (Shougang).
In 2010, the company appointed Dr Jennifer Holmgren as its CEO. This helped Dr Simpson to partially shed the burden of entrepreneurship. "Up to this point, I was thrown into the deep end of running the company and managing the science. I have to say, I prefer the laboratory to the boardroom. Having Jennifer's experience and depth of knowledge on our team was a major achievement in terms of where LanzaTech was going," he says.
Some of highlights of 2013 is a commercial project with BaoSteel and the second demonstration plant in China with Shougang. In the US, the company is focusing on the biomass facility, Freedom Pines, which will use syngas generated from residues of the pine industry to make chemicals. In terms of technology development, the company is working on carbon-dioxide process, diversifying the chemicals portfolio and taking forward the alternative aviation project.
LanzaTech's process is a gas fermentation technology that converts gases rich in carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide into valuable fuels and chemicals. Proprietary microbes of the company are used to break down these waste gases from industries such as steel manufacturing, oil refining and chemical production. The proprietary microbes are naturally occurring and is categorized as a WHO-risk 1 organism (same as baker's yeast).
"Essentially our process can be co-located at the source of the input gas stream. In the case of using steel mill gases, the plant will sit on existing land by the flue stacks. It is like retrofitting a brewery onto the site," explains Dr Sean Simpson, co-founder and CSO of Lanzatech.