The plant, to be built in Ghent, will capture the carbon monoxide produced when steel is made, and ferment it with microbes to produce bioethanol.

The technology will be provided by carbon-recycling company LanzaTech, who first discovered the all-important microbe inside the intestinal tract of a rabbit.

ArcelorMittal claims the plant – Europe’s first such commercial-scale facility – will produce around 47,000 tonnes of bioethanol a year to be sold to other companies as fuel.

Every ton of bioethanol produced, displaces 5.2 barrels of gasoline as well as reducing ArcelorMittal’s COemissions by 2.3 tons.

Low-carbon transition

ArcelorMittal was singled out in a recent report from Thomson Reuters because its emissions rose by more than 10% between 2010 and 2013. However, the firm said this latest project exemplified the changes it is making.

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

“Steel is produced through a chemical process that results in high levels of waste gases being emitted; this new technology will enable us to convert some of these waste gases into fuels that deliver significant environmental benefits when compared to conventional fossil fuels.”

ArcelorMittal also announced plans to roll out the technology across Europe if the initial project is successful. It said its European factories could potentially generate around 500,000 tonnes of bioethanol a year.

Biofuel solution

LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren added: ”We are tremendously excited to announce this partnership and our first production facility in Europe at a time when it is abundantly clear that we need all solutions and the commitment of large corporations, cities and countries around the world, to help us stay within our 2 degree carbon budget and keep fossil reserves in the ground.”

The New Zealand-based LanzaTech is also working with Virgin Atlantic to find further uses for its biofuels. By processing the bioethanol further, it can be converted into jet fuel with 60% lower emissions than conventional kerosene.

Brad Allen

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