April 29, 2007

Smokestack emissions as feedstock for ethanol

Khosla Ventures is turning its eye onto new businesses that are developing bioconversion processes for turning smokestack emissions into marketable biofuels - mainly ethanol. Such technologies offer the prospect of retrofitting carbon spewing combustion furnaces and boilers with energy saving bioreactors that, with the right combination of nutrients and organisms, can feed on the toxic gases and convert it into ethanol.

Here is the bulk of their recent press release..

LanzaTech NZ Ltd Secures Series A Funding From Khosla Ventures for Ethanol Production From Carbon Monoxide in Waste Gases

LanzaTech, the leader in technology using bacterial fermentation to convert carbon monoxide into ethanol, today officially announced 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 by-product 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."

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