Skip to comments.Carbon Gas Is Explored as a Source of Ethanol
Posted on 04/28/2007 12:22:03 AM PDT by neverdem
SAN FRANCISCO, April 23 A New Zealand company said Monday that it had secured financing from an investor in Silicon Valley to produce ethanol from an untapped source carbon monoxide gas.
The company, LanzaTech, based in Auckland, said it had developed a fermentation process in which bacteria consume carbon monoxide and produce ethanol. Ethanol can be used as an alternative fuel or an octane-boosting, pollution-reducing additive to gasoline.
Sean Simpson, LanzaTechs co-founder and chief scientific officer, said the company would use the $3.5 million investment from the venture firm, Khosla Ventures, to establish a pilot plant and perform the engineering work to prepare for commercial-scale ethanol production.
Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems who formed Khosla Ventures in 2004, has invested in more than a dozen start-ups involved in clean fuel technologies. He said in a telephone interview that LanzaTech stood out from the scores of proposals he sees each day for both its ability to scale up to industrial proportions and the credibility of the companys founding scientists.
When I passed it on to my partners for due diligence, the technology stood up to every test, and the intellectual property protection was awesome, Mr. Khosla said.
Then, referring to the bacteria that are key to the process, he said, The performance of the bugs was frankly mind-boggling to me, not something I would have expected from a tiny research effort in New Zealand. He said his firm sent the best process engineers we know to evaluate the technology and could it be industrialized, and the answer was yes.
People have been using yeast to turn sugar into alcohol for thousands of years. Corn, the main source of ethanol in this country, provides carbohydrates that are easily broken into sugars.
LanzaTechs innovation lies in using a bacterium...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Cool - if it really works and his affordable some day. My next question is can it work with carbond dioxide? (I imagine the carbon is the real key!) Of course, it would be a real drag to use up all of our CO2 and cause vegetation to die, etc.
Yes. There is another process though that isn’t biological.
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I am not a chemist, but somehow I get the feeling that converting CO2 into CO or simply separating the carbon would require a ton more energy than the enthanol one would create. Better just to use that energy from th get go.
Carbon monoxide is an incompletety oxydized molecule that includes a carbon atom. Oxyzidation usually yields more energy.
My next question is can it work with carbond dioxide?
No way. It can't be oxydized any more, if I remember my chemistry. Once you have carbon dioxide, then you need photosynthesis to combine carbon dioxide and water giving a carbohydrate and oxygen. I don't blame you. The NEA assumed the responsibility for education. They failed miserably.
Exhaling EnergyNakamichi Yamasaki, a research scientist at Tohoku University in Japan... reported that his team had successfully combined carbon from CO2 and hydrogen from hydrochloric acid to produce a hydrocarbon gas that included methane, ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene and butane... by using an iron powder and magnetite catalyst. The catalyst reduces the reaction temperature to the point at which the necessary process heat could be obtained by using the waste heat from power plants.
by Jim Wilson
[T]he Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA)... "will use microbes, microbial genomics, microbial pathways and plants as potential solutions to carbon sequestration and clean energy production," explains lab spokesperson Heather Kowalski. A leading candidate for that research is Methanococcus jannaschii, an ancient, single-cell organism that is found in the seafloor in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents. The organism produces methane by combining carbon dioxide with hydrogen rising through the vents. Incorporated into the air pollution control systems of power plants, the organism could turn CO2 into natural gas.
“...but basically the only efficient variant on that process is photosynthesis to produce sugars, which brings us right back to corn.”
Duh! I was thinking like a liberal (not thinking) and going for the complicated (and government funded?) solution instead of the obvious one! Thanks to all for the quick chemistry lesson.