Siemens & LanzaTech to develop fuel from CO2 & CO from steel industry gases

The iron and steel industry worldwide produces huge volumes of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide – around 6.7% of global CO2 emissions.   Siemens has announced that it will work to develop biofuels from these waste industrial gases after signing a 10-year cooperation deal with New Zealand technology company LanzaTech. They say they will commercialise and market the system for the steel industry. The process captures the CO and CO2 and uses these through a patented biological fermentation to produce chemicals  including bioethanol and fuels.  The companies hope their technique makes good use of the waste gases, as well as helping steel mills to meet environmental regulations. They claim fuels made from the waste gases will have CO2 emissions 50 – 70% lower than fossil based fuels.  LanzaTech says the process does not compete with food production – (but could the waste CO2 not be used in greenhouses etc in order to promote growing of food crops?). Virgin wants to fly a demonstration flight on this during 2013 and then more in 2014.




From Siemens’ press release:


Off-gases from the production of iron and steel contain significant amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Globally, the iron and steel industry contributes 6.7 percent to the worldwide CO2 emissions. To produce one metric ton of steel, an average of 1.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted. Up to now, these gases have been flared or used to create process heat and electrical energy within the plant.

LanzaTech’s innovative technology, instead, re-uses the off-gases from converter, coking plant or blast furnace processes as nutrients and a source of energy. The patented biological fermentation process allows steel plant operators to make use of the chemical energy contained in off-gases in the form of CO, CO2 and H2 (hydrogen) for the eco-friendly production of bioethanol or other basic chemicals such as acetic acid, acetone, isopropanol, n-butanol or 2,3-butanediol.
The global market for ethanol alone is estimated to amount to an annual volume of over 80 million metric tons, of which 75 million metric tons is used as biofuel. Unlike the bioethanol produced through agriculture, LanzaTech’s fermentation process does not compete with food production. Another major benefit of this technology is that the CO2 emissions (“carbon footprint”) are between 50 to 70 percent lower than petroleum-based fuels and around one-third lower than when steel plant off-gases are converted into electricity.

Comment from an AirportWatch member:
Ideally the  vast amounts of CO2 from these steel plants would be captured and stored underground, for permanent disposal. That, in theory, would be possible,  as they are large point sources.  However, CCS (carbon capture and storage is not going to happen on any significant scale for a very long time.
The second best option would be for the carbon to be used for some purpose which prevents or delays the emission of more CO2.  Such a use would be in fuel for road vehicles, which avoids the use of more fossil fuels. The CO2 then enters the atmosphere  slightly later than it would, being emitted by the steel works. But at least some fossil fuel oil did not need to be extracted, so some carbon was saved.
Another option would be for the CO2 to be used to cultivate crops, in a greenhouse, boosting the plants’ growth. That would again mean the CO2 would return to the atmosphere in due course, (once the food was eaten and the plant remains composted etc) but more slowly than if the CO2 was released by the steel plant. And food, efficiently grown, is needed.
The worst option is for that CO2 to be turned into jet fuel. Because it is likely that the emissions from aviation have around twice as much climate impact as just CO2 alone, when the non-CO2 impact is taken into account. That means burning a unit of fuel in a jet engine at high altitude produces around twice as much impact as burning that fuel at ground level.
Whichever form of jet fuel is burnt, whether from fossil or biological sources, once it is combusted in a jet engine  at over 25,000 feet or so altitude, it has a worse climate effect than that fuel being used on the ground.  Better therefore for the gases from steel plants to be used for terrestrial uses – ideally where the carbon is contained and stored.


Siemens to develop biofuel from steel industry gases

Manufacturing giant signs 10-year partnership with LanzaTech to commercialise gas to fuel technology

By BusinessGreen staff

20 Jun 2013

Siemens will work to develop biofuels from waste industrial gases after signing a 10-year cooperation deal with New Zealand technology company LanzaTech.

The two companies will work to commercialise and market the system for the steel industry, according to a joint statement released yesterday.

LanzaTech has developed a process that captures carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from steel mills and turns it into fuel and chemicals. Currently, these by-product gases are usually flared or used to generate on-site electricity.

The company says the technology can help reduce the 6.7 per cent of global CO2 emissions iron and steel industry contributes, while helping mills lower operating costs and meet environmental regulations.

Moreover, LanzaTech calculates the CO2 emissions of the technology are between 50 to 70 per cent lower than petroleum-based fuels and about a third lower than when the gases are converted into electricity on-site.

The deal will see Siemens help design mills that can incorporate LanzaTech’s technology or work out how to retrofit it onto existing facilities. In addition, the two companies are “already pursuing several commercial gas fermentation project opportunities around the world”, according to their statement.

Dr Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of LanzaTech, said the partnership would “improve the value and environmental footprint” of the global steel industry.

“Global demand for affordable and sustainable energy has never been stronger,” she said. “Carbon emissions from steel mills can create an important new source of energy while simultaneously reducing emissions.”

The Auckland-based company has already trialled the technology at two pre-commercial plants in China and is planning to build two commercial-scale facilities in the country during this year, which should come online in 2014.

LanzaTech has already attracted high-profile customers for its biofuels including Virgin Atlantic. The carrier’s most recent sustainability report states the company is aiming to fly a demonstration flight using the fuel later this year and plans to “uplift fuel in commercial quantities by 2014”.






Virgin trials “revolutionary” biofuel made from waste gases

New fuel promises half the lifecycle emissions of standard jet fuel and could be used in international flights by 2014

By Will Nichols (Business Green)

11 Oct 2011

Virgin Atlantic today unveiled a “breakthrough” aviation fuel it claims has half the lifecycle carbon footprint of kerosene, the standard fossil fuel alternative.

Should a demonstration flight in the next 12 months prove successful, the airline said that within three years flights from Shanghai and Delhi to Heathrow could be using the fuel, which has been created by bio-technology firm LanzaTech.

The New Zealand-based company has pioneered a method of capturing waste gases from industrial steel production, which are then fermented and chemically converted for use as a jet fuel using technology developed bySwedish Biofuels.

LanzaTech reckons the process could be applied to around two-thirds of the world’s steel mills, as well as the metals processing and chemical industries.

The company said the reliance on industrial gases addresses the commonly levelled charge that biofuels drive land use change and can result in higher emissions and increased food prices.

The company is piloting the technology in New Zealand and aims to have commissioned a demonstration plant in Shanghai before the end of the year, ahead of commercial deployment in 2014.

“With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable, and with the steel industry alone able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting,” said Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson in a statement. “This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel.”

Branson has long hailed the potential of greener fuels and only this weekdemanded better tax incentives to encourage the technology.

Under his leadership, Virgin Atlantic piloted the first commercial service using biofuels, flying from London to Amsterdam using a blend of jet fuel and biofuel made from coconut oil and babassu oil in February 2008.

The airline has also set itself a goal of cutting carbon emissions 30 per cent per passenger km by 2020 and said the new fuel from LanzaTech could help take it “well beyond” that pledge.

Qantas and Air New Zealand have also experimented with alternative fuels, as the region increasingly becomes a green jet fuel hub. A study earlier this year predicted Australasia could be home to a green jet fuel industry worth £1.3bn a year and supporting 12,000 jobs by 2030.

However, some environmentalists remain concerned that if used at large scale green jet fuels could still contribute to land use change and as such governments should step up efforts to discourage flying.




Virgin plans for new aviation fuel made from waste gas from steel production (Flight Global)Virgin Atlantic is to develop a low carbon aviation fuel, which it hope will
have half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.  It is
developing the fuel with LanzaTech and claims it is a breakthrough. The fuel will
use waste gases from industrial steel production which will be captured,  and
chemically converted (Fischer Tropsch) using Swedish Biofuels technology for use
as a jet fuel. The gas otherwise would be burnt/vented to produce CO2.