ArcelorMittal produces first ethanol through Belgium-based carbon capture

ArcelorMittal has produced the first industrial ethanol from its capture and utilisation (CCU) Steelanol plant at its Gent facility in Belgium. This month, one of the four bioreactors produced ethanol for the first time and a production ramp-up is scheduled in the coming months, Kallanish notes.

In partnership with LanzaTech, Primetals Technologies and ERM, the steelmaker designed the Steelanol unit, the first of its kind in Europe, to capture carbon-rich waste gases from steelmaking and biologically convert them into advanced ethanol through LanzaTech’s bio-based process.

“LanzaTech’s technology works like a brewery, but instead of yeast consuming sugar, proprietary bacteria known as a biocatalyst consume carbon gas and convert it into essential chemical building blocks such as ethanol,” ArcelorMittal says in a note.

The facility was inaugurated in December 2022, with cold commissioning taking place thereafter (see Kallanish passim). The biocatalyst was then introduced into the plant with a process known as inoculation to grow microorganisms and verify the production of new molecules. The inoculator produced the first samples containing ethanol in June. In November, one of the four bioreactors produced the industrial ethanol. Steelanol has the capacity to produce 80 million litres of ethanol with the potential to reduce annual carbon emissions from the Gent plant by 125,000 tonnes.

ArcelorMittal says it has been awarded funds from different sources to scale up the project, including the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and the European Investment Bank.

Natalia Capra France