Ethanol is typically produced using biological processes or as a petrochemical, through ethylene hydration, using fossil fuels. It’s also often produced using corn and other crop feedstocks, but this approach is dependent on crops that otherwise could be used to grow food or waste feedstocks.
Twelve and LanzaTech are eliminating fossil fuels from ethanol production by converting CO2 to CO through Twelve’s carbon transformation technology (a new class of CO2-reducing catalysts and a novel device that splits CO2 with just water and renewable electricity as inputs), and subsequently using LanzaTech’s small Continuous Stirred Tank Reactor (CSTR) to convert CO to ethanol.
This approach is highly scalable and could ultimately produce ethanol at an industrial scale, while simultaneously eliminating CO2 emissions.
Our partnership with Twelve provides us with the feedstock needed to create critical resources like ethanol without adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Our process aims to rebalance the overabundance of carbon in our environment and instead reuse it for meaningful applications.—LanzaTech CEO Dr. Jennifer Holmgren
In Fall 2021, Twelve and LanzaTech also announced plans to develop polypropylene from CO2 with a grant from Impact Squared. This work will see Twelve converting CO2 to CO, which will in turn be converted by LanzaTech’s proprietary microbe to isopropyl alcohol (IPA).
Finally, TotalEnergies, using its alcohols dehydration knowhow (Atol), will dehydrate it into propylene which will be polymerized into polypropylene with the same technical characteristics as its fossil counterparts. Polypropylene is a major polymer used in key applications, including medical devices like syringes and IV bags, automotive, furniture, textiles, and other durable products.