We are in the midst of an energy revolution, with new types of
liquid fuels from new sources and an increased supply of
traditional fuels unleashed from existing sources thanks to new
While this is good news, it is tempered by the reality that
global demand is forecast to far outpace supply. According to
data from industry analysts at Cambridge Energy Research
Associates (CERA), we will face a supply gap of 35 million bpd
by 2030. Thats even taking into consideration the new
supply brought on by the
success of hydraulic fracturing in the US, new and forecasted
discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico and other areas around the
world, and the increased use of electric vehicles and other
high fuel efficiency cars and trucks.
The world needs more supply. Period.
And nowhere is this more important than in the aviation
fuels market, where alternatives to liquid fuels, such as
electricity or fuel cells, are not yet a viable option. While I
am sure many in the industry would love to see jets plug in
rather than fill up, its going to take some time.
Understanding this, the aviation industry has placed a
premium on developing sustainable, low-carbon alternative fuel sources that
not only address the carbon footprint issue but also
review the agro-economic, socio-economic and environmental assessments of next
generation fuels. Of course, given the huge volume of
consumption, the industry has a strong focus on sustainability, as well as price.
The cost for alternatives must be on par with, or better than,
My company believes theres a way to address many of
these issues simultaneously by creating new, low-carbon fuels economically,
sustainably and without diverting precious land or water
resources. LanzaTech uses a proprietary fermentation process to
convert gases (including industrial waste gases and gas derived
from any biomass source) into fuels and chemicals. We are one
of several companies looking to turn waste into fuel.
This approach is cost effective, as it uses material that
has no value; environmentally effective, as it
recycles gases that would otherwise be sent freely to the
atmosphere; and socially effective, as it can create domestic
jobs and foster energy security.
With industry partners such as Swedish Biofuels and Imperium Renewables,
along with support from Pacific Northwest National Labs,
National Renewable Energy Labs and the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and funding
from the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Department
of Energy, LanzaTech is is working on an alcohol to
jet (ATJ) pathway. These biofuels will exhibit similar or
identical chemical and physical properties to their petroleum
counterparts, enabling them to be utilized at blends up to 50%
without any modifications to the storage and transportation
infrastructure or aircraft engines.
At the successful completion of these projects, LanzaTech will have
produced ATJ fuel that can be used for testing purposes by ASTM
International as it creates a fuel specification for ATJ.
There are a number of co-benefits from all of this,
including the relative abundance of industrial gases as a feedstock, the reduction in overall
CO2 emissions, and the avoidance of land-use
conflicts in feedstock production. Using waste
materials as feedstock is helping to reshape the
perception of energy sources.
We hope that success in our efforts will breed more interest
and partnerships from industries that generate large sources of
CO and CO2 (or other waste gases) so they will see
the synergies in recycling waste materials and putting them
back to work once again powering planes, trains and
Holmgren is the chief executive officer of
LanzaTech. She has over 20 years of experience in the
energy sector, including a proven track record in the
development and commercialization of fuel and chemical
technologies. Prior to joining LanzaTech, Dr. Holmgren
was vice president and general manager of the Renewable
Energy and Chemicals business unit at UOP LLC, a
Honeywell Company. In that role, she led UOPs
renewable business from its inception through to the
achievement of significant revenues from the
commercialization of multiple novel biofuel