ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel company, in partnership with carbon recycling company LanzaTech and Primetals Technologies, a technology and service provider to the iron and steel industry, plan to build Europe’s first-ever commercial scale production facility to create bioethanol from waste gases produced during the steelmaking process.
The companies say the resulting bioethanol can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent compared with conventional fossil fuels. It will predominantly be used in gasoline blending, but it can also be further processed into other products such as drop in jet fuel.
The 47,000 ton ethanol/annum project, sufficient to fuel half a million cars with ethanol blended gasoline, will demonstrate the added value of recycling waste streams, not only by reducing emissions at source — hence reducing ArcelorMittal’s direct carbon footprint — but by keeping fossil fuels in the ground through the production of commodity chemicals and fuels that would otherwise be made from oil, ArcelorMittal says.
About 50 percent of the carbon used in the chemistry of steelmaking leaves the process as carbon monoxide. Today, this waste gas stream is either flared or used to heat and power the steel mill. In either case, the carbon monoxide is combusted and the resulting CO2 is emitted. LanzaTech’s technology, however, recycles the waste gases and ferments them with a proprietary microbe to produce bioethanol. Every ton of bioethanol produced, displaces 5.2 barrels of gasoline as well as reducing ArcelorMittal’s CO2 emissions by 2.3 tons.
LanzaTech’s carbon recycling technology this week received the Presidential Green Chemistry Award. LanzaTech is collaborating with companies across multiple sectors including US aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui.
Construction of the €87 million ($96 million) flagship pilot project, which will be located at ArcelorMittal’s steel plant in Ghent, Belgium, is slated to begin later this year, with bioethanol production expected to start mid-2017. Construction will be in two phases, with phase one providing an initial capacity of 16,000 tons of ethanol per annum by mid-2017 and phase two, which will be completed in 2018, bringing the total capacity to 47,000 tons of ethanol per annum.