This Technology Business is Revolutionizing the Way We Think About Waste Carbon


Guest blog by Tom Idle

Jennifer Holmgren, the CEO of pioneering green fuels business LanzaTech, has been hunkering down at the beautiful Cedar Lakes Estate, some 70 miles outside of New York City. For two weeks of limited access to the outside world, she, along with 11 other business leaders, have been put through some serious mentoring and business strategising as part of the Unreasonable Impact programme in the US – an initiative orchestrated by Barlcays Bank and the Unreasonable Group.

And it was for good reason.

LanzaTech was selected as one of just 12 businesses from, let’s face it, a gargantuan list of innovative companies out there, because it is on the cusp of greatness, demonstrating through its unique business model that it can scale up marvellously, creating some 500 new jobs in the emerging green economy within the next five years.

Founded in 2005, LanzaTech has found a way to commercialize carbon capture and reuse technology.

It converts carbon-rich waste gases (which contain carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen) and turns them into high-quality biofuels and chemicals. So, taking the waste carbon in gases and residues coming out of steel manufacturing plants, for example, and sequestering them into a new product – fuels that can power our cars, our planes – and the future.

“Everybody knows about the fermentation process used in beer-making, where microbes turn sugar into alcohol,” says co-founder of the business and chief scientific officer, Sean Simpson. “Well, in our process, the microbes turn gasses into alcohol.”

In this week’s Better Business Show, Simpson explains how the business plans to shake up the renewable energy sector with its fuels which reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70% compared to conventional gasoline – and by using waste as a feedstock, LanzaTech is operating wholly outside the food value chain, with no impact on land or water.

Tom Idle is the founder of Narrative Matters, a content creation agency that develops, creates and publishes content that truly engages audiences around issues of global social, environmental and economic importance. As the former editor-in-chief at 2degrees, Tom now provides strategic editorial insight and support to help organisations – from large corporates, to NGOs – build content strategies that focus on editorial that is accessible, shareable, intelligent and conversation-driving.

He is also the host of Europe's most popular weekly podcast on corporate sustainability,
The Better Business Show, which goes out every Monday.