Only three months after LanzaTech announced a spin-off aimed at selling sustainable aviation fuel and is already preparing for two more.
Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, said on the Disrupt 2020 virtual stage on Tuesday that the carbon capture technology company plans to leverage its core technology to create two more companies.
LanzaTech records exhaust emissions and uses bacteria to convert them into usable ethanol fuel. A bioreactor is used to convert captured and compressed waste emissions from a steel mill or factory or other emissions-producing company into liquids.
The core technology of LanzaTech ̵
“With a technology like ours that can use so many different raw materials – waste biomass, industrial gases, CO2 from the air – you will be making so much ethanol that I see ethanol as the raw material of the future. In other words, you will be using ethanol to make other products. “
In June, LanzaTech did just that and announced a spin-off called LanzaJet. The new company was formed with commitments from Japanese trading and investment company Mitsui & Co. and Canadian oil and gas producer Suncor Energy, who will invest US $ 85 million in financing pilot and development facilities for LanzaJet.
Now it appears that LanzaTech has plans to pursue other parts of the supply chain. Holmgren said the company is focusing on a few use cases on the chemical side. For example, ethanol can be converted to ethylene, which is used to make polyethylene for bottles and PEP for fibers used to make clothing.
“We see a path from ethanol to products in today’s supply chain,” said Holmgren.
More importantly, LanzaTech has focused on synthetic biology. The company has learned to modify the bacteria it already uses to make ethanol and make other chemicals directly instead.
“So you can imagine that one day we will not only make fuel for an airplane, but we will also make the seat belts and pads – all of these things through synthetic biology,” she said, adding that this is likely to become a spin-off .
The second spin-off company focuses on a by-product it is already producing. The bacterium that eats carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide is what Holmgren calls “thin bacteria” because it is mainly made up of protein. LanzaTech is already selling this thin bacterium as a by-product of its technology.
“Not in the distant future will we want to run a reactor with all these gases, not to make ethanol but to make protein, and I see that as the ultimate spin-out,” she said.
Holmgren did not provide a specific timetable for these spin-offs. Though she added that the company is now making a plan and will be taking some steps over the next three months. It takes capital to get these businesses up and running. The synthetic biology spin-off, which Holmgren said is more advanced, is going to need a few hundred million dollars upfront.
Holmgren announced a new small biomass gasifier in India on Tuesday during Disrupt 2020. The new gasifier will be housed in the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical, one of the largest refineries in India. The LanzaTech carburetor, which is being built in collaboration with Indian project development company Ankur Scientific, will use waste to produce ethanol and chemicals instead of electricity.