Thursday, April 26, 2007

Carbon Monoxide - Future Source of Ethanol?

If the new technology discussed below proves to be a viable approach to Ethanol production one day, it will surely improve the air quality of the USA due to captured and utilized carbon monoxide emissions, and perhaps take some pressure off the demand and thus price of corn. A continued increase in the price of corn effects not only the cost of gains in a feedlot and on the family farm, but also is having 'trickle down' ramifications throughout our economy that will become increasingly apparent to the American consumer.
An alternative for the family farm is to raise their cattle on grass and legumes, rather than depend on corn and it's byproducts, and that requires moderate-framed easy-fattening grass genetics.
Pictured here is a British White grassfed yearling bull, grassfed from conception onwards.

New Zealand company converts carbon monoxide to ethanol

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, April 24 /PRNewswire/ ‒LanzaTech, the leader in technology using bacterial fermentation to convert carbon monoxide into ethanol, officially announced April 24 that it has secured US$3.5M in Series A funding, led by Khosla Ventures and supported by two existing New Zealand based investors.

This funding will support further technology development, establishing a pilot plant, engineering work to prepare for commercial-scale ethanol production and positions the company to raise significant capital in the near future. This technology could produce 50 billion gallons of ethanol from the world's steel mills alone, turning the liability of carbon emissions into valuable fuels worth over $50 billion per year at very low costs and adding substantial value to the steel industry.

The technology will also be a key contributor to the cellulosic biofuels business as it can convert syngas produced through gasification into ethanol.

"We have proven in our laboratories that the carbon monoxide in industrial waste gases such as those generated during steel manufacture can be processed by bacterial fermentation to produce ethanol. Garnering the financial and strategic support of Khosla Ventures is a significant validation of our approach, and we welcome Khosla Ventures Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Doug Cameron, to our Board of Directors," said Dr. Sean Simpson, Chief Scientist and Founder of LanzaTech.

Vinod Khosla commented, "Technology to produce fuel ethanol from waste material, such as the carbon monoxide produced in steel manufacture and other industries, makes use of a low cost and plentiful point source carbon feedstock. The opportunity is a large one as carbon monoxide is a significant byproduct of steel manufacture. LanzaTech has developed technology and a process to cost-effectively convert carbon monoxide into ethanol -- this ground breaking technology provides the tools to address the challenge of reducing emissions and turns waste into a valuable product, while developing new businesses based on innovative science."

LanzaTech was co-founded in 2005 by Dr. Richard Forster and Dr. Sean Simpson, who both have many years of experience in biotechnology and biofuels. The company is aggressively pursuing the development of advanced gas to ethanol technologies based on work developed in its laboratories in Auckland, New Zealand. As part of its two-pronged strategy of technology development and deployment, LanzaTech has sought international patent protection for its ethanol production process and is forming partnerships to commercialize its technologies and processes.

Khosla Ventures offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. The firm helps entrepreneurs extend the potential of their ideas in both traditional venture areas like the Internet, computing, mobile, and silicon technology arenas but also supports breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas such as bio-refineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, battery and other environmentally friendly technologies.