Development and dissemination of innovative gas fermentation technology
MITSUI & CO., LTD.
Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (Mitsui) invested in LanzaTech (LT), which has made a commercial development of proprietary microbes for innovative gas fermentation technology that converts industrial off-gas, including carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2), into fuels and chemicals such as ethanol and isopropanol; this is the only technology of its kind in the world. Mitsui is working with LT as its strategic partner; by combining Mitsui’s functions and expertise with LT’s technology, we are creating new businesses that can help to mitigate the impact of climate change. Currently, Mitsui is providing support for LT in three main areas: developing new business with Mitsui’s business partners, providing logistics functions for the projects adopting LT’s technology, and introducing companies with which LT can collaborate on R&D as technical development partners.
In March 2014, Mitsui invested in LanzaTech (LT), a US-headquartered start-up founded in New Zealand. One of the key advantages of LT’s technology is that it can produce fuels and chemicals without competing with food production by large-scale utilization of off-gas from steel mills, oil refineries, etc.
In May 2018, the first commercial plant using LT’s technology to produce fuel ethanol from the off-gas from a steel mill commenced operation in Hebei Province in China. In 2017, the Chinese government announced the new “E10 Policy,” the aim of which is to ensure that, by 2020, all automotive gasoline sold in China is blended with up to 10% ethanol; the announcement of this goal has caused demand for ethanol in China to skyrocket. The current situation is that demand for ethanol far exceeds supply, and 99% of ethanol production in China relies on raw materials derived from food crops. In the future, Mitsui is aiming to realize the establishment of multiple plants similar to the one in Hebei throughout China, and to promote the widespread adoption of ethanol produced using LT’s technology, which does not compete with food and thus provides greater environmental benefits.
At the same time, in the aviation sector, sustainable aviation fuel that uses ethanol as the raw material is starting to be commercialized. Starting from 2021, new International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations governing CO2 emissions will come into effect, which are expected to provide further stimulus for sustainable aviation fuel adoption.
Unless both Mitsui and society as a whole can operate in a sustainable manner, then there can be no development in any meaningful sense. Mitsui hope that we will be able to leverage our capabilities to the maximum extent in providing the world with new business models and new technologies which, when they become widely adopted as standard, will help to create a sustainable world.
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