US biotech firm LanzaTech has reported successfully turning waste carbon into lipids and omega-3 fatty acids.
In a press release on 14 December, the company said it had worked with the DBT-IOC Center for Advanced Bio-Energy Research (co-funded by India’s Department of Biotechnology and oil and gas company IndianOil) since 2014 to utilise carbon and hydrogen for its CO2 sequestration /carbon recycling. process.
A pilot plant in Faridabad sequesters about 10 kg/day of CO2 in a process that feeds waste carbon and hydrogen to organisms that digest them and turn them into acetate. From there, an algae that normally eats sugar but is able to eat acetate turns that acetate into the lipids and omega-3s, according to Fast Company.
“This disruptive technology is expected to give IndianOil a distinct lead over competition in not only reducing carbon emissions but also producing high value products such as DHA [the omega 3 docosahexaenoic fatty acid] and biodiesel,” LanzaTech said.
By 2025, the market for omega-3 fatty acid esters derived products was projected at about 100,000 tonnes/year, worth some US$57bn, with commercial grade DHA esters prices ranging from US$500-$1200/kg, the firm added.
“Once proven at pilot scale, this technology has a potential to be a game changer for IndianOil,” LanzaTech said. “The corporation plans to put up commercial plants at suitable refinery locations/second generation (2G) ethanol plants where pure CO2 is available from the mono ethyl glycol/2G ethanol fermentation units and hydrogen from refineries.”
LanzaTech said conversion of CO2 required an energy source and using electricity or hydrogen only made economic and environmental sense when 100% renewable electricity sources were used.
“That means that this technology will benefit from the continued price reductions and capacity increases for renewable electricity.”
LanzaTech already has a commercial plant running where waste emissions from the Chinese Shougang Group’s Jingtang Steel Mill outside Beijing in Caofeidian are used to produce ethanol.