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Rabbit Gut Enhances World’s Biggest Steel Mill

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

ArcelorMittal’s steel mill in Ghent, Belgium, is about to help itself —and the world—by aligning with a bioengineering company that uses a microbe from a rabbit’s gut to turn global-warming waste gas into fuel.


Steel is created through a chemical process that produces high levels of waste gases. Indeed, about half of the carbon used in steelmaking leaves the process as carbon monoxide.


And when a steel plant burns carbon monoxide, the process releases CO2, a massive player in the manmade greenhouse gas game. The technology from the small New Zealand company LanzaTech uses microbes—Clostridium—that eat these waste gases and turn them into bioethanol. This low-carbon transport fuel can be blended with conventional gasoline to reduce dirty emissions.


Those with their eyes on this unprecedented scene predict that the steel mill will eventually produce some 47,000 tonnes of ethanol-blended gasoline yearly — enough to fuel half a million cars and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent.


As such, this plan is a standout for turning an environmental liability into a financial opportunity.


This project will be Europe’s first-ever commercial-scale production facility to create bioethanol from the waste gases that result from the steelmaking process. It will cost about €87 million.


The Ghent plant is expected to be complete in 2018. Smaller factories using LanzaTech’s technology are also being built in China and Taiwan.

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