Sekisui, a multibillion dollar Japanese diversified chemicals company and LanzaTech report making significant progress on a waste-to-chemicals platform converting municipal solid waste (MSW) to ethanol or other new products.
Today, many MSW streams are incinerated or super-heated to produce a synthesis gas made up of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which is then combusted for power and emitted as carbon dioxide. Sekisui and LanzaTech took an existing gasification system at a landfill site and added LanzaTech’s fermentation capability to a slipstream of the gas. They have shown that it is possible to recycle the carbon from unsorted MSW destined for landfill or the incinerator and ferment it to make new products, that would otherwise come from fossil resources or sugars.
In contrast to traditional fermentation that uses yeast to convert sugars into products such as ethanol, LanzaTech ferments gases and produces ethanol and a variety of chemicals using a naturally occurring bacteria.
This technology, which was first demonstrated in 2013 in a laboratory unit, has now been demonstrated at pilot scale achieving commercial productivity and stability targets.
Garbage is an important resource. It is essential our society effectively utilizes this valuable and abundant resource as the ‘urban oil field’ of the future enabling the creation of a sustainable society. It is our mission to replicate this technology widely.—Satoshi Uenoyama, Sekisui Senior Managing Executive Officer, Responsible for Corporate Research and Development
This technology aligns with Japan’s “3R” strategy of reducing, reusing and recycling resources and supports the nationwide movement to reduce emissions by 26% below 2013 levels by 2030 according to Japan’s Paris Climate commitments.