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ArcelorMittal commits to bioethanol plant

Work on Europe’s first commercial-scale facility to create bioethanol from waste gases produced during the steel-making process is expected to start later this year.

A letter of intent has been signed by steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal, carbon recycler LanzaTech and London-based Primetals Technologies, a technology and service provider to the iron and steel industry.

Construction of the €87m (£62m) pilot project, at ArcelorMittal’s steel plant in Ghent, Belgium, above, will commence later this year with bioethanol production due in mid-2017.

The project will be in two phases, the first creating a capacity of 16,000 tonnes of ethanol a year by mid-2017 and the second, completed in 2018, bringing the total ethanol capacity to 47,000 tonnes.

Approximately 50% of the carbon used in steel-making produces carbon monoxide, which is either flared or used to heat and power the steel mill. LanzaTech’s technology recycles the waste gases and ferments them with a proprietary microbe to produce bioethanol.

Every tonne of bioethanol produced displaces more than five barrels of gasoline and reduces ArcelorMittal’s CO2 emissions by 2.3 tonnes.

Once the Ghent plant is complete and the commercial viability of the project is proven, the intention is to construct further plants across ArcelorMittal’s operations. If scaled up to its full potential in Europe, the technology could enable the production of around 500,000 tonnes of bioethanol a year.

Carl De Maré, vice-president, innovation, at ArcelorMittal, said: “This partnership is an example of how we are looking at all potential opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions and support a transition to a lower carbon economy.”

Primetals Technologies will be responsible for part of the engineering, automation, key equipment and commissioning.

“Once in operation, it will become a game changer within the industry and a benchmark for low-carbon footprint steel-making,” said Karl Purkarthofer, Primetals senior vice-president.

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