Climate efforts so far have had limited tangible results, and global emissions have continued to increase every year, as current efforts to reduce emissions from hard-to-decarbonize industries such as oil and gas, power, steel, cement, fertilizers, etc., have been inadequate. Carbon capture is one method that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from these heavy industries. Moreover, newer technologies like direct air capture (DAC) can also reduce the carbon footprints of industries that do not have active flue-stacks, such as construction and data centers, as well as non-stationary emissions from transportation. Carbon capture technologies, along with utilization and sequestration, would play a vital role in quickly decarbonizing economies over the next few decades to reach aggressive zero-emission targets.
Lake Charles Methanol and Enchant Energy reported operational delays.
TerraCOH, Oakbio, and CarbiCrete received COVID-19-led funding through government grants and relief programs for working capital needs.
LanzaTech and Prometheus Fuels developed medical supplies such as carbon dioxide (CO2)-based sanitizers and face shields to combat COVID-19.
Pond Technologies’ and DyeCoo’s technologies were utilized in pandemic prevention to produce algae-based antigen test kits and sustainable masks.
The next-gen carbon utilization segment has the highest number of startups followed by direct air capture (DAC) and flue-gas capture. This is likely due to the various pathways available to turn captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into valuable commercial products.
There are only a few carbon sequestration startups, possibly due to challenges in commercial feasibility. The economic gain from storing captured CO2 underground is limited compared to converting it into commercial products. Meanwhile, a higher number of pre-seed and seed-stage startups suggests that the industry is at a very nascent state.
The industry is well-funded. The average funding among CCUS disruptors (startups that have raised more than USD 3 million) is around USD 50 million. LanzaTech is the highest funded, having raised nearly twice as much as the next highest, Svante. Climeworks, Carbon Engineering, and Solidia Technologies are some of the others to raise more than USD 100 million.
CCUS disruptors also seem to have long operational histories despite being in a nascent industry. An average disruptor has been in operation for nearly ten years, while some of them are yet to go to market. These longer development timelines suggest the need for heavy innovation in the industry.
LanzaTech has developed the technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial applications and ferment them using bacteria to produce ethanol, which can be used in industrial chemicals and biofuel production. As of March 2022, LanzaTech held over 1,000 patents, but was yet to commercialize its technology.
In 2018, LanzaTech partnered with Shougang Group (a leading Chinese iron and steel producer) to develop the world’s first commercial facility to convert industrial emissions to ethanol. The facility is located at the Jingtang Steel Mill in Hebei Province, China. In December 2020, LanzaTech announced that its Chinese facility had produced over 20 million gallons of ethanol from recycled steel mill emissions. Since then, the company has been exploring several pathways to convert its sustainable ethanol into valuable commercial products, from cleaning products to product packaging to sustainable clothing.
In June 2020, LanzaTech announced a new venture, LanzaJet, to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using low carbon intensity ethanol (including some of its own fermented ethanol as well as low carbon ethanol from outside suppliers). LanzaTech will initially build a demonstration plant in Georgia that can produce around 10 million gallons of aviation fuel per year, which is expected to be completed by 2022. In June 2021, LanzaJet announced the world’s first commercial-scale ethanol-SAF production facility in South Wales to produce around 330 million liters of blended SAF per year. The company also plans to deploy a commercial SAF plant in Illinois.
LanzaTech is reported to be focusing on two more spin-off technologies: 1) using ethanol to produce ethylene, which is used to make both polyethylene for plastic bottles as well as clothing fibers, and 2) using bacteria used in the fermentation process to produce commercial proteins.
Key customers and partnerships
LanzaTech’s sustainable ethanol has been used in Swiss company Mibelle’s cleaning products, L’Oreal’s hair product packaging, Unilever's laundry capsules, Coty’s fragrance products, and On and Borealis’s running shoes. LanzaTech has also partnered with the German chemical company BASF to develop n-octanol at laboratory scale, the carbon transformation startup Twelve to develop polypropylene from carbon emissions, Spray Engineering Devices Limited (SED), a leading Indian engineering company, to convert bagasse to ethanol in India and SHV Energy , a Netherlands-based renewable energy solutions provider, to develop renewable propane.
LanzaTech has partnered with Mitsui & Co (a Japanese conglomerate), Suncor Energy (a Canadian oil and gas producer), and All Nippon Airways (the largest airline in Japan) for its LanzaJet venture. LanzaTech has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vattenfall (a Swedish utility company), Shell, and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) to explore the production of synthetic SAF. LanzaJet has partnered with Carbon Engineering to investigate the feasibility of a commercial facility in the UK to produce more than 100 million liters of SAF per year. LanzaTech partnered with Woodside and ReCarbon to examine the feasibility of building a CCU facility in Perth, Australia. In April 2022, LanzaTech also collaborated with Bridgestone Americas for tire recycling.
Funding and financials
In March 2022, LanzaTech entered into a SPAC deal to list on Nasdaq, at valuation of USD 2.2 billion. The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2022. In January 2022, LanzaJet secured an investment of USD 50 million from Microsoft to deploy its planned SAF plants. In December 2021, the company raised USD 30 million led by ArcelorMittal . In May 2021, LanzaTech received USD 4.1 million from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to improve its existing technology to enable direct conversion of carbon dioxide to ethanol. In July 2021, LanzaTech was also among five other projects to have been selected by the US DOE to receive combined federal funding of over USD 5 million.
Direct Air Capture (DAC):
Next-gen Carbon Utilization: Sustainable Fuels:
Incumbents dominate the flue-gas capture segment, with leading oil companies like Shell, ExxonMobil, and Oxy attempting to maintain the circularity of their operations by capturing and utilizing carbon dioxide (CO2) in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Meanwhile, companies like Dakota Gas and Air Products capture CO2 from their operations and sell it to third-party EOR operators. Incumbent activity across direct air capture (DAC), next-gen carbon utilization, and carbon sequestration segments are largely limited.
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