LanzaTech, Northwestern and ORNL researchers develop tech producing chemicals from carbon emissions

February 22, 2022 |

In Tennessee, a team of scientists from LanzaTech, Northwestern University and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed carbon capture technology that harnesses emissions from industrial processes to produce acetone and isopropanol, known as IPA. These widely used chemicals serve as the basis of thousands of products, from fuels and solvents to acrylic glass and fabrics.

The carbon-negative platform uses microorganisms as tiny but powerful factories that convert carbon from agricultural, industrial and societal waste streams into useful chemicals. The process recycles carbon that would otherwise be released as greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. In the race to net-zero emissions, this technology provides a step toward a circular carbon economy that can replace products made from fossil resources.

Researchers built on LanzaTech technology to develop an efficient new process that converts waste gases, such as emissions from heavy industry or syngas generated from biomass, into either acetone or IPA, using an engineered bacterium called Clostridium autoethanogenum, or C. auto. Their methods, including a pilot-scale demonstration and life cycle analysis showing the economic viability, are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

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Category: Research

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