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HSBC joining Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech in waste-gas-to-ethanol-to-jet-fuel effort

The UK’s largest bank, HSBC, is joining Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech in supporting the preparation for a world-first flight using a low-carbon, synthetic jet fuel kerosene produced from industrial waste gases. LanzaTech is leading the development of the process that captures waste gases from industrial steel production and ferments them to ethanol, which is then chemically converted for use as jet fuel. (Earlier post.)

LanzaTech and Virgin Atlantic have been working together for three years on the fuel’s development, but the addition of HSBC’s support to the partnership, along with Boeing and other technical partners, means a proving flight of the new technology will take place within the next year.

LanzaTech said that the support of HSBC will allow production of this innovative new fuel to move from sample size to demo scale and will produce a sufficient amount of fuel to conduct the proving flight. These are all essential steps in the process to achieve American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) certification of the alcohol to jet production pathway.

ASTM certification is a significant step towards commercialization of LanzaTech’s sustainable fuel solution, which is expected to have half the carbon footprint of petroleum jet.

LanzaTech estimates that its process can apply to 65% of the world’s steel mills, allowing the fuel to be scaled up for worldwide use.



I never know whether to be encouraged or discouraged when the scale of the waste from present processes comes to light.

I have no idea how much of the world's airline fleet could be powered by using this currently vented material, but I do know that Korea plans to power the first 500,000 of their fuel cell cars using hydrogen from industrial processes.

Others were arguing that it must be used somehow at the moment, but it looks as though it is perfectly possible that it is just vented at the moment.

It appears that is also what happens currently to the planned UK sources of hydrogen.


Blast-furnace gas isn't vented, it's burned.

Robert Rapier keeps bringing up the issue that LanzaTech refuses to talk about:  just what is the ethanol fraction of their fermentation product, which determines how much energy is required to distill it?  The "bottoms" must be heated to boiling to get the lost fraction of EtOH down to an acceptable value.  If the starting fraction of EtOH is 2%, an EtOH fraction in the bottoms of 0.5% represents 25% of the input compared to 5% if the starting fraction is 10%.  You also need 5 times as much process heat for the distillation.

The best use of blast-furnace gas for vehicle propulsion is probably combustion in a combined-cycle power plant to generate electricity for EVs.


It can be used, and some is.
Here is a description of the processes:

However due to the capital costs of using it, which is hinted at in the link I gave, a surprising amount is simply flared:

'At present, ArcelorMittal burns about 22 percent of the blast furnace gas from Indiana Harbor operations before releasing it to the atmosphere through an exhaust stack, a process called flaring.
The company uses the remaining 78 percent of the gas to power boilers. The proposed project would result in a reduction of the amount of waste gas that is flared.'


I would also imagine although I don't know that in the areas where most steel production takes place such as China the proportion flared is even higher.

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