A new start-up, LanzaTech, believes they have developed a way to reduce pollution, increase food production, make gas for cars and fuel for planes cheaper, and potentially provide a more cost effective and eco-friendly source for plastics used in many mass-manufactured products today. Their solution: rabbits. Well, specifically a special bacteria found within the stomachs of a rabbit which has the ability to take carbon emissions from factories and turn it into ethanol. This method could reduce the need to make corn-based ethanol, freeing up more land for food production, and increase the amount of ethanol that we can put in gasoline and jet fuel. According to the article “This start-up turns pollution from factories into fuel that powers cars – and on day planes” by Catherin Clifford, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, an airline company, believes this technology will reduce the reliance of airliners on oil. While it is good that we can reduce pollution from factories by recycling it and cutting our reliance on big oil, the real kicker is that it can be done cheaply. According to the article, tests of airline fuel using ethanol from this method of production have reduced the carbon footprint (when compared to current jet fuel) by 70% and at a cost such that they can sell it at the level of the “lowest current alternative to jet fuel available today”. Eventually, the company hopes to expand and use the same bacteria to create polyethylene which is used in most plastic products today.
This technology could have major ramifications on factories and manufacturers if it becomes mainstream, mostly because it would require great coordination with these companies as it is their emissions that LanzaTech would need to harvest in order to make their new fuel. But, if companies agree to this, it will help manufacturers reduce their carbon emissions making it easier for them to comply with environmental standards, potentially provide a new source of revenue for them in the form of selling carbon emissions, and ultimately help reduce shipping costs if the price of jet fuel is really able to drop as much as this company is predicting. All thanks to a bacteria found in the gut of a bunny.
For more information on LanzaTech go to this website: http://www.lanzatech.com/
- How many manufacturers would need to begin using this tech to make a significant impact on the pollution numbers we see today?
- How would reducing the need for corn-based ethanol impact the food industry?
- What impact does this have on the oil industry? Will it really reduce our reliance on Big Oil?