China Steel Corp (CSC, 中鋼) said yesterday it has teamed up with LCY Chemical Corp (李長榮化學) and New Zealand’s LanzaTech Ltd in a joint collaboration to produce fuel ethanol from steel mill off-gases.
The off-gases are waste gases emitted as a by-product of the refining process of steel products. The carbon dioxide in the waste gases can be captured using LanzaTech’s fermentation technology and is then converted into low-carbon biofuels and other chemicals.
CSC and LCY Chemical yesterday signed a joint investment agreement, aiming to establish a 50-50 venture that will adopt LanzaTech’s technology by using microbes to produce fuel ethanol from off-gases, according to a statement issued by CSC.
“By using LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology, the fuel ethanol from off-gases has been proven to generate far less carbon dioxide than that from corn-based ethanol,” CSC said in the statement.
In the initial stage of their collaboration, the two companies are planning to invest NT$150 million (US$5.14 million) in the new venture, White Biotech Corp (新能生技), and are planning to construct a demonstration plant, the statement said.
CSC said the projected plant could go into commercial operation after they become more familiar with LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology and when the plant has obtained relevant certification.
However, the company did not set a timeframe for commercial operation of the plant. It also did not specify the production capacity of the plant, nor offer any revenue targets for the plant once it starts mass production.
Prior to its collaboration with CSC, LanzaTech has already been cooperating with two Chinese state-owned steel makers, Baosteel Group Corp (寶鋼) and Shougang Group Corp (首鋼), and has built demonstration plants in Shanghai and Beijing.
The fast economic development in emerging markets such as China and India in recent years has boosted energy demand by nearly 40 percent from a decade ago, prompting major economies to seek alternative “green” energy sources, including fuel ethanol, as the sustainability of exploiting fossil-fuel energy increasingly becomes a concern.
Separately, CSC chairman Tsou Juo-chi (鄒若齊) said on the sidelines of the signing ceremony that he expected the global steel industry would hit bottom in this quarter.
The company is also expected to see its quarterly shipments increase by 3 percent to 5 percent from last quarter, as its downstream customers have seen longer order visibility, local cable TV network UBN yesterday quoted Tsou as saying.