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Scaleup and Commercialization of a Gas Fermentation Technology

SBE Special Section

A newly commercialized gas fermentation platform could be key to addressing climate change by enabling biological conversion of waste gases to products.

As our world’s need to combat climate change becomes critically important, sustainable production of fuels and chemicals is at the forefront of the fight. In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the necessity of limiting global warming to a maximum 1.5°C above preindustrial levels to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change (1). Of the 90 scenarios put forward by the IPCC to limit global warming, only nine have a 50–66% likelihood of limiting peak warming to below 1.5°C during the 21st century. The remaining scenarios involve some amount of temperature overshoot before dropping back to 1.5°C.

Negative emissions technologies (NETs) such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), afforestation, and bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) are among the solutions proposed to limit peak warming and to correct for any overshoot, although each solution would require rapid deployment on a massive scale, which may or may not be achievable (2). Every scenario the IPCC proposed to keep warming below 1.5°C requires decarbonization of the electrical grid. Such decarbonization could be accomplished by transitioning to low-carbon technologies like wind and solar. IPCC also noted that such transitions need to be “large-scale and rapid” and that “all relevant companies, industries, and stakeholders would need to be involved to increase the support and chance of successful implementation (1).”

The transition to a fully decarbonized grid and the development and deployment of zero-emission vehicles is underway. Nevertheless, low-carbon fuels will continue to be required for road vehicles and sustainable plane and jet travel (3). Therefore, both policies and technology development must drive a transition toward grid decarbonization, as well as lower emissions in light- and heavy-duty road, air, and marine vehicles.

LanzaTech was founded in 2005. Our proprietary process directs the waste gases from industrial facilities to a fermentation reactor in which microbes convert the carbon in the feed gases into valuable fuels and chemicals. Following downstream processing steps, the fuel or chemical product can be recovered and used or sold.

Our gas fermentation technology diverts CO2 away from the atmosphere and incorporates it back into the market as fuel or another chemical product, extending the lifecycle of the carbon...

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