Lanzatech Shines in Synthetic Biology
In yesterday’s article, we discussed how synthetic biology is being used by companies such as Joule to develop genetically altered organisms that can produce hydrocarbon diesel fuel and ethanol directly from sunlight and waste CO2. Another exciting private company in this space is LanzaTech.
Founded in 2005, New Zealand based Lanzatech has raised $59 million so far from the likes of Khosla Ventures, PETRONAS, and the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund to develop technology which will allow industrial waste streams to become a resource for bio-ethanol production. The company has an impressive list of 27 partners including the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker POSCO, Boeing, Virgin Atlantic, DARPA, Mitsui & Co., Indian Oil Corporation, and NREL. Lanzatech has received numerous awards over the years and just this past year Biofuels Digest ranked LanzaTech as #2 of the hottest 50 companies in bioenergy with Forbes Magazine listing Lanzatech as #48 in its annual list of the top 100 most promising privately held companies. Just a few months ago, former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina joined the LanzaTech board to help the Company evangelize their new energy paradigm.
Update 08/06/2019: LanzaTech has raised $72 million in Series E funding to expand their carbon recycling platform and enable them to accelerate the commercialization of Carbon Smart™ products allowing consumers to choose where the carbon in their products comes from, recycled carbon or fossil carbon. This brings the company’s total funding to $276.3 million to date.
Lanzatech has developed a patented microorganism that can covert gas that is rich in CO and CO2 into fuels and chemicals. The Company’s proprietary microbe has a Category 1 World Health Organization safety rating, the same as baker’s yeast. The microbe can use as feedstock, industrial flue gases from steel mills and processing plants, syngas generated from any biomass resource such as organic industrial waste or agricultural waste, reformed methane, and coal-derived syngas. The output can be in the form of any one of the following byproducts:
Using CO waste gases from 65% of the global steel production as a resource for the LanzaTech process, there is the potential to produce over 30 billion gallons of fuel ethanol per year which is about 19% of the current world aviation fuel demand. In November 2012, Lanzatech completed the first phase of a 100,000-gallon demonstration facility that converts waste CO from China’s largest steel producer, Baosteel, into ethanol. Lanztech’s strong backing and partnerships along with a very compelling technology proposition make this company one that may demonstrate to investors in the near future just how profitable the promises of synthetic biology may be.
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