As part of the ongoing global rollout of LanzaTech’s technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions and convert those emissions into fuel and chemicals, the company is introducing a new carburetor for small waste biomass in India.
The new gasifier, announced on TechCrunch Disrupt’s virtual stage on Tuesday, is hosted at Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical, one of India’s largest refineries. The LanzaTech The gasifier, which is being built in collaboration with Indian project development company Ankur Scientific, will use waste to make ethanol and chemicals instead of electricity.
While most of the liquid manufacturing industry uses large area, expensive oxygen-blown gasifiers, LanzaTech air-blown technology is much cheaper and easier to use, and can still produce bacteria on a scale that produces a significant amount of ethanol.
According to Holmgren, contamination of the gas raw material is also not a problem for LanzaTech bacteria. The new process can produce biochar that replaces fertilizer in the soil, thereby reducing nitrogen oxide emissions, another greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change.
If the pilot is successful and the carburetors are rolled out on a large scale across India, that could mean an ability for the country to produce around 25 billion liters of ethanol annually and, according to LanzaTech, remove 60 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, estimates.
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For Holmgren, the small pilot project in India is an example of how small, inexpensive distributed systems can compete with the large oil industry.
“There are two ways of scaling: bigger, which is cheaper per unit produced, or massive replica of a small unit (numbering vs. scaling),” said Holmgren. “Most people have always believed that numbering applied to toys and food, but I think it goes with process technology too. Bigger goes with petroleum, but not with biotechnology, biomass, or exhaust gases, which are distributed and difficult to move. “
Decarbonization, Holmgren said, will require a reshaping of traditional systems if humankind is to break the carbon cycle that is now causing global climate catastrophes currently looming across the western United States.
“We cannot compare today’s innovation with the past. Instead, we need to envision and create a very different future in which the production of energy, fuels and chemicals is based on distributed rather than centralized principles, ”said Holmgren. “The recent breakthroughs in miniaturization, automation, AI, and 3D printing enable distributed production that goes beyond anything imaginable, and of course a simple carburetor helps.”