14-May-2021 - BASF SE

White biotechnology enables carbon recycling

LanzaTech and BASF achieve first milestone in utilizing industrial off-gases for chemical production

Transforming the carbon contained in industrial off-gases into valuable chemicals is the aim of a partnership between LanzaTech and BASF. Now the partners have achieved a key first success: With the help of special bacteria, they have been able to produce n-octanol at laboratory scale from carbon monoxide and hydrogen, the main components of emissions, e.g. from the steel industry. n-octanol is an important molecule that is used in cosmetics, among other uses.

“By connecting our competencies, we can speed-up bringing more sustainable products to the market. The interdisciplinary cooperation between biologists, biochemists and engineers is decisive for successful outcomes in the field of white biotechnology and therefore also for the success of this project,” said Dr. Detlef Kratz, President of the Process Research & Chemical Engineering research division at BASF. In this collaboration, LanzaTech contributes its unique, innovative gas fermentation technology, while BASF provides its expertise in the development and operation of chemical processes. “The integration of LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology into BASF’s Verbund enables us to take an important step towards a carbon-neutral circular economy,” Kratz added. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO LanzaTech, stressed: “Our climate is changing, and the world is anxiously watching while we develop urgently needed technologies to keep the important raw material, carbon, in the cycle. BASF is leading the way in rethinking the chemical supply chain, by embracing a circular model of transforming waste carbon into new materials and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

Until now, industrial exhaust gases have either been flared or recovered for energy and used to produce electricity and steam.  In this partnership, the two companies are working on a process using a biological capability developed by Dr. Ramon Gonzalez, currently a Professor at the University of South Florida, that will allow the carbon in the off-gas to be utilized as a raw material for the production of chemical products like n-octanol. This innovative carbon recycling approach thereby reduces CO2 emissions from the industrial site and keeps fossil resources in the ground. LanzaTech’s technology is already deployed at commercial scale transforming exhaust gas from steel production into ethanol. The collaboration has now paved the way to produce high value chemicals, such as n‑octanol through gas fermentation.

Within just a few months, the companies have not only developed a suitable strain of bacteria to produce this important alcohol, they have also designed an innovative process concept to allow continuous product generation and purification. As a next step, the teams will focus on optimizing the biology and technology design to deliver an efficient production process.

One advantage of this process is that the microorganisms are not particular about the composition of the exhaust gas, as they are able to utilize varying ratios of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The microorganisms are also tolerant to many different impurities, so there is no need for complex steps to purify the exhaust gas. LanzaTech’s technology can use different feedstocks and can also recycle solid waste carbon from household or agricultural waste. By transforming solid waste materials into a gas stream via controlled partial oxidation, the carbon and hydrogen contained in these gases can be fixed into chemical products via the same gas fermentation process, instead of being released into the environment.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • bacteria
  • n-octanol
  • biotechnology
  • white biotechnology
  • gas fermentation
  • exhaust gas treatment
  • microorganisms
More about BASF
  • News

    BASF ramps up methane sulfonic acid output

    Global demand for methane sulfonic acid (MSA) has increased steadily over the past years. This trend is fueled by a growing interest in environmentally optimized products and formulations. In response to growing customer demand, BASF has invested a higher double-digit million euro amount to ... more

    BASF achieves strong EBIT before special items despite significantly higher energy and raw materials prices

    The first quarter of 2022 was characterized by significantly higher energy and raw materials prices as well as supply chain disruptions. “Nevertheless, we had a very good start to the year 2022,” said Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, at the c ... more

    BASF to wind down activities in Russia and Belarus

    As announced on March 3, 2022, BASF has not conducted new business in Russia and Belarus, in light of the war of aggression against Ukraine ordered by the Russian government. BASF strongly condemns the Russian attack on Ukraine and the violence against the civilian population. The Board of ... more

  • Videos

    Industrial implementation of the ammonia synthesis - How does it work?

    In September 1913, the first industrial-scale ammonia production plant came on stream at BASF in Ludwigshafen. The Haber-Bosch process for ammonia synthesis, which was first successfully operated at BASF Ludwigshafen in September 1913, was the decisive step into the age of mineral fertilize ... more

  • Job Offers

    Senior Project Manager (m/f/d)

    The Global Engineering Services Division is responsible for the implementation of BASF's plant construction projects. We advise and support the various corporate divisions by providing expert services throughout the plant's life cycle, such as automation, process or mechanical engineering. ... more

  • Companies

    BASF plc

    From our centre at Cheadle in Cheshire, we market a wide range of products, including acrylic monomers; fine chemicals; intermediate chemicals; speciality chemicals; dispersions; pigments; plastics; textile chemicals and crop protection products. Our Construction Chemicals business is a lea ... more

    BASF de Nicaragua S.A.

    BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from oil and gas to chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals. As a reliable partner BASF helps its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. ... more

    BASF Construction Solutions GmbH

    BASF Construction Polymers GmbH, Trostberg, Germany, is a leading innovator and producer of construction and oilfield polymers. Our product portfolio for construction chemicals consists of superplasticizers, dispersants, plasticizers, rheology modifying agents, stabilizers, defoamers and ai ... more

More about LanzaTech
  • News

    Bacteria upcycle carbon waste into valuable chemicals

    Bacteria are known for breaking down lactose to make yogurt and sugar to make beer. Now researchers led by Northwestern University and LanzaTech have harnessed bacteria to break down waste carbon dioxide (CO2) to make valuable industrial chemicals. In a new pilot study, the researchers sele ... more

    BASF invests in carbon recycling company

    BASF Venture Capital GmbH is to invest in LanzaTech, a biotech company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Using special microbes, LanzaTech has developed a technology for gas fermentation that first enables ethanol to be produced from residual gases containing carbon monoxide and hydr ... more

    Petronas and LanzaTech to Recycle CO2 into Sustainable Chemicals

    LanzaTech, a producer of low-carbon fuels and chemicals from waste gases, and PETRONAS, the national oil company of Malaysia will work together to accelerate the development and commercialization of technologies to produce sustainable chemicals from carbon dioxide (CO2) and natural gas. The ... more