Twelve, LanzaTech partner to create ethanol from CO2

By Twelve | March 03, 2022

Carbon transformation company Twelve and biotechnology company LanzaTech have transformed CO2 emissions into ethanol as a part of an ongoing research and development partnership.

The two companies combined technology capabilities to create ethanol, which is a common alcohol used as fuel, and an ingredient in hand sanitizers, personal care, and household cleaning products. Ethanol is typically produced using biological processes or as a petrochemical, through ethylene hydration, using fossil fuels. It's also often produced using corn and other crop feedstocks, but this approach is dependent on crops that otherwise could be used to grow food or waste feedstocks. Twelve and LanzaTech are eliminating fossil fuels from ethanol production by converting CO2 to CO through Twelve’s carbon transformation technology, and subsequently using LanzaTech’s small continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) to convert CO to ethanol. This approach is highly scalable and could ultimately produce ethanol at an industrial scale, while simultaneously eliminating CO2 emissions.

“Collaboration is critical to our work in a rapidly evolving technology space. As we use carbon transformation to address long-standing climate challenges, developing pathways to ethanol and other critical products are key to a fossil free future,” said Twelve Co-Founder and CSO Etosha Cave.

“Our partnership with Twelve provides us with the feedstock needed to create critical resources like ethanol without adding COto the atmosphere. Our process aims to rebalance the overabundance of carbon in our environment and instead reuse it for meaningful applications,” said LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren.

In Fall 2021, Twelve and LanzaTech also announced plans to develop polypropylene from CO2 with a grant from Impact Squared. This work will see Twelve converting CO2 to CO, which will in turn be converted by LanzaTech’s proprietary microbe to isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Finally, TotalEnergies, based on its alcohols dehydration knowhow (AtolTM), will dehydrate it into propylene which will be polymerized into polypropylene with the same technical characteristics as its fossil counterparts. Polypropylene is a major polymer used in key applications, including medical devices like syringes and IV bags, automotive, furniture, textiles, and other durable products.