Renewable fuels: Lanza Tech develops CO2 fermentation system

Lanza Tech earlier announced its collaboration with Petronas of Malaysia to extend the company’s CO fermentation process to also include gases including Co2 such as natural gases and refinery off-gases. This will lead to their production of acetic acid, a chemical that is essential for applications in the markets of plastics and polymers.
During a conference in Germany earlier this month, Lanza Tech described the progress of the company on the CO2 pathway it is trying to develop. Back in 2011, the company revealed that I was able to do continuous fermentation of carbon dioxide to acetic acid using the microorganisms that they modified.

During the fermentation of CO, the CO serves as the energy source and the carbon. The CO2 only serves as the source of carbon. In this scenario, the hydrogen will be the source of energy.

The development of the fermentation system for the CO2 leverages the existing reactor and fermentation knowledge of Lanza Tech. Petronas commits to help the company with the technologies. If the pilot works come out as a success, the company will put up a demo factory in Malaysia.

At the moment, the main challenge for Lanza Tech is to locate a good amount of hydrogen to make large scale use of carbon dioxide in waste gases. Another challenge will be the amount of acetic acid and its possible use, in case large scale production is a success.

The acetic acid can be a valuable chemical but its market can be easily saturated. Lanza Tech is looking into the conversion of the acetic acid into lipids. In turn, the lipids may lead to the production of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Lanza Tech is looking into using the technologies of its partner to produce the lipids from the acetic acid.

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