Towards a circular economy breakthrough: Our partnership with LanzaTech

This is a partnership to build the first plant in Europe to use the waste gases from steelmaking to produce ethanol on a commercial basis. This fuel generates 84% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, and the plant will produce enough every year to run half a million cars. Every tonne of ethanol produced will reduce overall CO2 emissions by 2.3 tonnes and displace eight barrels (1 tonne) of gasoline.

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The chemistry behind it is simple: steelmaking produces carbon monoxide as a waste gas, which is usually burned off, and CO2 is produced as a result. Finding uses for this waste gas, however, is much more of a challenge. Most steel plants use it to heat and power the production process, but where that doesn’t use all of it, the rest is burned off. LanzaTech’s pioneering new technology can recycle those waste gases and turn them into ethanol. This breakthrough recently earned LanzaTech the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award, the top award of its kind in the country and a Circular Economy award at the World Environmental Forum.

Construction of the €87 million flagship pilot project, which will be at our steelmaking site in Ghent, Belgium, has commenced and will start operations by 2017. It is too early to know whether this will prove successful on a commercial and scalable basis, but we are excited to be partnering with LanzaTech on this project.