Siemens Metals Technologies and LanzaTech, a producer of low-carbon fuels and chemicals from waste gases, have signed a ten-year co-operation agreement to develop and market integrated environmental solutions for the steel industry worldwide. The collaboration will utilize the fermentation technology developed by LanzaTech transforming carbon-rich off-gases generated by the steel industry into low carbon bioethanol and other platform chemicals. (Earlier post.)
Siemens and LanzaTech will work together on process integration and optimization, and on the marketing and realization of customer projects. In December 2012, LanzaTech and Baosteel, a leading steel producer in China, announced the success of their 100,000 gallon per year (300 tons) pre-commercial plant located at one of Baosteel’s steel mills outside Shanghai, China. (Earlier post.)
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% 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 hydrogen for the 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 more than 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 are between 50 to 70% lower than petroleum-based fuels and around one-third lower than when steel plant off-gases are converted into electricity.
LanzaTech has been operating a pilot plant in Auckland, New Zealand since 2008 utilizing raw steel mill gases. In 2012, LanzaTech became the first company ever to scale gas fermentation technology to a pre-commercial level, developing and successfully operating two facilities converting flue gas from Baosteel and Shougang steel plants into ethanol, each at an annualized capacity of 300 tons.
LanzaTech is now planning to begin construction on two commercial facilities in China in 2013 with production expected in 2014. Siemens and LanzaTech are already pursuing several commercial gas fermentation project opportunities around the world.