Microbes May Be Our Friends

By Scott Kriner, Green Metal Consulting

The talk in some circles in Washington, DC is turning back to a green agenda. Some have called it the “green new deal”. The effort is to eliminate fossil fuels in order to minimize or eliminate carbon emissions. So again we hear about potential global warming due to man’s use of fossil fuels. Amidst the market and politics, companies do their best to do the right things to stay in business. And, there are companies that are innovating to be superior.

In the March/April issue of Fast Company magazine, the 50 most innovative companies were highlighted. Among that list was a company in the Chicago area that builds bio-tech reactors. But they are not your ordinary reactor. The bio-reactors, manufactured by LanzaTech, have created a bio- ethanol reactor filled with microbes that eat waste gasses and produce ethanol.

The reactor's first full-scale test took place last year at a steel mill near Beijing China. The unit is now creating 16 million gallons of ethanol a year. Since then, the LanzaTech bio-reactor has been used in a Belgian mill owned by Arcelor-Mittal, the world’s largest steel producer.

The LanzaTech bio-reactor is not just for steel mills. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, shared that their technology can be used in a variety of industrial sites. The technology is being brought to India, South Africa, and into two US locations. Beyond their success, the LanzaTech company seeks to show that carbon re-use is feasible, possible, and economical.

Who would have thought that a technical breakthrough using the steel industry and other industrial sites may be the catalyst to reduce carbon emissions.

Scott Kriner is the president and founder of Green Metal Consulting Inc. He is a LEED Accredited Professional who began his career in the metal construction industry in 1981. His company is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the California Association of Building Energy Consultants and the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).

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