[Gasification] lanzatech buys closed range fuels plant for 5.1mil

doug.williams Doug.Williams at orcon.net.nz
Mon Jan 23 04:20:16 CST 2012

Hi Jim and Gasification Colleagues.

You may be interested in a couple of points about this NZ Company:


>lanza tech wants to do microbes after the gasification section, vs the
>catalyst route of range fuels. 

Lanzatech use their microbes to make liquid fuels from emission CO. Their idea was to capture CO from steel mills, but as a NZ company, we have only one steelmill in the country. Have you any idea how complicated it is to get permission to collect CO emission gas from a working steel mill for experimentation? Steel mill emissions are by the way free from condensable hydrocarbons, so there was a lot of ignorance at that time of the tar issues of using producer gas from biomass.

Looking for a source of CO, they were referred to me by Canterbury University as a potential supplier of CO via producer gas, in the first order to develop enough of the microbes for commercial testing. It was this project that motivated me to assemble the stored Pioneer Class gasification system, and for the first time ever (for me), purchase a small compressor to pump up new LPG cylinders to 120 psi, so they could start their test programme. They ran into all sorts of problems of having gas stored in unspecified cylinders, and storing gas at a city laboratory without the required permits.  I reported this project to the Gasification List at the time, but was never given follow up progress reports as promised after they got the gas. Needless to say I never heard from them again, and they still owe me the $300 agreed to for all the time I spent getting them started.

> but still the gasifier needs to work,
>which was the primary problem on the frist go.  where were we again in
>understanding the problem they had with the gasifier?

 You find that most projects would not even get off the ground if expertise was applied to scrutinize the type of technologies involved. Gasifiers are presented as quite wondrous processes, and the less informed are swept up in an enthusiastic wave of support for something in which they have no clear understanding. The Range Fuels technologists proved no smarter than any other group claiming to have revolutionary processes to make liquid fuels from producer gas, probably described as syngas in  their successful proposals for funding. If my memory is correct, the gasifier is a recirculating fluidized bed system that does not make a tar free gas.

>lanzatech points out they do not understand gasifiers, and plant to
>spend a minimal amount to see if they can get the current gasifier
>operational, before bringing in another.

The cheaper producer gas CO made from biomass, is "not" quite so easy to make using inappropriate gasification technologies, and the need for a tar free gas for compressing in substantial quantities will be a challenge. Their admitted ignorance of gasification technology should at least wave a red flag of warning to their investors.

Having said that, hope they can make it work before someone else's money runs out (:-)

Doug Williams,
Fluidyne Gasification.

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