Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IndianOil), India’s flagship national oil company and LanzaTech signed a Statement of Intent to construct the world’s first refinery offgas-to-bioethanol production facility in India.
The basic engineering for the 40-million liter per year (10.6 million gallons US/year) demonstration facility will begin later this year for installation at IndianOil’s Panipat Refinery in Hayrana, India, at an estimated cost of 350 crore rupees (US$55 million). It will be integrated into the existing site infrastructure and will be LanzaTech’s first project capturing refinery off-gases. LanzaTech’s first commercial facility converting waste emissions from steel production to ethanol will come online in China in late 2017.
LanzaTech has developed a gas fermentation process based on biological catalysts to make fuels and chemicals from a range of waste gases instead of sugars and yeast. Currently, the large volume of waste gas produced at industrial facilities such as refineries cannot be stored or transported; instead, it is combusted to make power locally and emitted as carbon dioxide. LanzaTech’s technology allows refineries to divert waste gases from the grid, supporting the transition to fully renewable power while recycling this carbon into liquid fuels and petrochemicals.
India is adopting a cleaner and greener economic growth pathway today, with the Government running one of the largest renewable capacity expansion programmes in the world. The implementation of the National Smart Grid Mission, along with new programs for increasing energy capacities from wind and waste conversion, are key elements of this vision. This vision is inextricably linked to the principle of ‘need-based consumption’ which follows the need to maximize the use of existing resources and decarbonize everyday activities.
For liquid fuels, this is highlighted by targets initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to increase the supply of ethanol-blended gasoline (E10) to all parts of the country. IndianOil is aligned with this Ministerial vision and is working to both reduce its overall emissions and to improve refinery yields. For this reason, IndianOil has selected the LanzaTech technology which enables the beneficial reuse of carbon-rich off-gases for the production of ethanol. The ethanol produced from the recycling of refinery off-gases is expected to have a greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional gasoline.
The potential impact of using off-gases from the refining sector in India is considerable. India would be able to produce 40-50 KMTA of ethanol per refinery while saving about 1 million tonnes of CO2 per annum. This is the equivalent emissions savings as taking 850,000 cars off the road in India each year.
In 2014, LanzaTech partnered with a research team from the IOC-DBT Center for Advanced Bio-Energy Research (an entity co-funded by India’s Department of Biotechnology and Indian Oil Corporation Limited) to develop a process that recycles CO2 emissions into omega-3 rich fatty acids.
Recycling CO2 as the sole carbon source for continuous gas fermentation, LanzaTech’s microbes produced acetate that is then consumed as energy and carbon by a proprietary algae developed by the team at IOC-DBT. These algae are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can be utilized as an omega-3 rich fish meal substitute, or the algal oil can be extracted and purified as an independent omega-3 lipid product.
The process closely parallels LanzaTech’s demonstrated waste gas to fuels technology, allowing LanzaTech to leverage its experience to rapidly commercialize the process.