LanzaTech to move headquarters; Soperton retrofit ongoing

By Sue Retka Schill | April 08, 2014

LanzaTech will be moving its headquarters to Illinois as it continues to develop its projects in China and Soperton, Ga. The company’s process turns industrial and biomass-based gases into ethanol and other chemicals.

With the completion of tests at the precommercial facility in China turning steel mill off-gases into ethanol and chemicals, design of the first commercial facility is underway. Financing has been approved on the LanzaTech-Baosteel New Energy Joint Venture which will produced ethanol and 2,3 butanediol at an annualized capacity of 20,000 tons per year. Full operation is expected in 2015.

Work is proceeding on retrofitting of the company’s Freedom Pines facility in Soperton, Ga., the site of the former Range Fuels. In December, LanzaTech announced a collaboration with Concord Blue.     Permits are in place to operate the Concord Blue gasifier, according to a company spokesman, and assembly is underway. Commissioning is expected to begin in the third quarter.

“Our Freedom Pines facility in Georgia plays a key part in our chemicals strategy,” the spokesman told Ethanol Producer Magazine. “Our microbe has developed significant capabilities for the production of a variety of chemicals, thanks to the work of our synthetic biology team, and as we scale this further we see the Freedom Pines site playing a core role in the development of this platform at scale. We have begun retrofitting the plant to enable our technology to be integrated into the existing infrastructure and we expect to begin production of chemicals in 2015. This timeline is dependent on the successful integration efforts currently underway.”

Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech will establish its global headquarters at the new Science and Technology Park in Skokie, Ill., a $500 million, 23-acre bioscience campus.  The move will generate 30 new Illinois jobs with employees transferred from New Zealand and 35 additional employees moving from the company’s current U.S. offices at Roselle, Ill. The new location will also serve as the company’s research and development center with a new investment of more than $17 million. LanzaTech will share a 160,000 square foot facility, occupying 41,000 square feet of lab and office space.

"LanzaTech is a shining example of Illinois' emerging culture of clean tech innovation," Gov. Pat Quinn said in the announcement of the relocation. "Illinois is home to approximately 3,500 biotech companies, and the Chicago area is one of the nation's leading cities in clean tech research. It is the perfect place for LanzaTech's global business to thrive."

"Our success can be attributed to thinking and growing globally," LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren said. "We have a broad product portfolio and global Fortune 500 partners across a variety of sectors. To accelerate commercialization, it is natural for us to relocate closer to capital markets, infrastructure, partners and customers. Chicago is an ideal location and we would like to thank Gov. Quinn, his team and the Illinois government for their support during this process."

To assist with the move, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has approved tax credits for LanzaTech worth an estimated $1.1 million over the next 10 years. The credits against the company's state income tax liability are available under the Economic Development for a Growing Economy program.

LanzaTech, which will continue to have a presence in New Zealand, China, India and Europe, is the first company to produce fuel grade ethanol from steel mill off-gases. The company's pre-commercial facility in China, which can produce ethanol at an annualized rate of 100,000 gallons per year, earned an internationally recognized sustainability certification from the Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials in 2013. LanzaTech recently closed a $60 million fourth round of venture capital funding, led by Mitsui along with Siemens Venture Capital and CICC Growth Capital Fund.