Published 1 year ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: Dean Moriarty/Pixabay
Proof of concept for direct production of monoethylene glycol (MEG), a key building block in sustainable PET manufacturing, has been completed at lab scale.
A consortium including LanzaTech and
Danone has discovered a new route to manufacturing
monoethylene glycol (MEG) — a key building block for polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) resin, fibers and bottles — from captured carbon
emissions. The technology converts carbon emissions from steel mills or gasified
waste biomass directly into MEG.
LanzaTech’s carbon-capture technology uses a proprietary, engineered bacterium
to convert the CO2 directly into MEG through fermentation, bypassing the need
for an ethanol intermediate, and simplifying the MEG supply chain. The direct
production of MEG has been proven at laboratory scale and the presence of MEG
was confirmed by two external laboratories.
“We have made a breakthrough in the production of sustainable PET that has vast
potential to reduce the overall environmental impact of the process,” said
LanzaTech CEO Dr. Jennifer Holmgren. “This is a technological breakthrough
which could have significant impact, with applications in multiple sectors,
including packaging and textiles!”
While there is no organism in nature known to produce MEG, through this
proof-of-concept stage, Illinois-based LanzaTech has used synthetic biology and
AI tools to discover multiple novel pathways to make MEG directly from carbon
emissions. By combining and prototyping various sets of enzymes identified from
different sources in novel ways, LanzaTech has successfully reprogrammed its
ethanol-producing bacteria to fix and channel carbon into MEG.
This early-stage proof-of-concept work shows that it is possible for a bacterium
to directly produce MEG from gas. By producing MEG directly, the new technology
avoids the multiple processing steps required to convert ethanol into ethylene,
then ethylene oxide and then to MEG. LanzaTech anticipates that, when scaled
successfully after a multiyear development phase, the direct production process
for PET — a clear, strong, lightweight, versatile plastic that can be easily and repeatedly recycled (into rPET) — made from
captured carbon emissions could greatly reduce the environmental impact and
increase circularity of plastic production.
LanzaTech is partnering with leading companies to improve the environmental
impact of packaging. Given the success of this proof-of-concept phase,
LanzaTech, with the support of Danone, plans to continue the scale-up phase of
its direct-to-MEG technology — together with partners InEnTec, Waste
Management and lululemon, the company is now working to apply and scale
the technology for upcycling of non-recyclable plastic waste and apparel to MEG,
with support from the US Department of Energy.
“We have been working with LanzaTech for years and strongly believe in the
long-term capacity of this technology to become a game changer in the way to
manage sustainable packaging materials production,” said Danone R&I Advanced
Techno Materials Director Pascal Chapon. “This technological collaboration
is a key enabler to accelerate the development of this promising technology.”
With expertise in synthetic biology, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and
machine learning coupled with engineering, Illinois-based LanzaTech has
created a platform that converts waste carbon into new everyday products that
would otherwise come from virgin fossil resources. The company has continued to
expand applications of its game-changing carbon-capture and -transformation
technology and partner with major companies to scale its impacts. In the past
year alone, the startup has joined forces with Coty, to create
for fragrance production; with lululemon, to develop polyester made from
and just last month, with Bridgestone Americas — to develop the first
dedicated end-of-life tire-recycling
creating a pathway toward tire material circularity and the decarbonization of
new tire production. In January, LanzaJet — LanzaTech’s sustainable fuels
technology arm — received a $50M capital
from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund to help scale and lower costs
of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel.
LanzaTech’s first two commercial-scale gas-fermentation plants have produced
over 30 million gallons of ethanol, which is the equivalent of offsetting the
release of 150,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Additional plants are
under construction globally.
Published May 27, 2022 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST