The long-term decoupling of chemicals from petroleum took another step forward with the announcement by LanzaTech that it has successfully produced 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BD) using microbial gas fermentation technology. 2,3-butanediol is a key building block for plastics and fuels.
Chemical building blocks are normally produced from the cracking of petroleum or even through the fermentation of sugars (ethanol). However, LanzaTech’s process uses nonfood, low value gas feed stocks, including industrial waste gases such as those produced by steel mills, oil refineries, coal manufacturing, syngas from landfill-waste and reformed natural gas.
2,3-BD is converted into intermediaries like butenes, butadiene and methyl ethyl ketone that are used to make polyester plastics, ABS, and other polymers. The technology is based on a proprietary microbe developed by the New Zealand company.