Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Biofuels

Landfills Can Free Us from Petrochemicals

GE and Genomatica collaborate to produce chemical products from landfill gasThe gigantic waste hauling company Waste Management has been transforming itself into something of a jolly green giant, given its recycling operations, landfill gas recovery and sewage-to-biofuel ventures. In its latest move, company signed an agreement with the research firm Genomatica to develop processes for converting municipal landfill gas to basic chemical products that are in turn used to manufacture plastics and many other chemical products. It’s an important step forward for the green chemistry movement, which seeks to use renewable or non-toxic feedstocks in chemical manufacturing.

Chemicals from Syngas

Petroleum, natural gas, and gassified coal are conventional feedstocks for syngas (synthetic gas), which can be burned as fuel or used to manufacture other products. Since biomass and waste materials can also be used to make syngas, there is a potential to shift away from fossil feedstocks and focus more on renewables. However, until now the process for converting syngas to other chemicals has been energy intensive and not widely applicable.

Energy Efficient Syngas from Landfills

Genomatica’s solution is an energy efficient, microbe-based process. It has proven successful on various renewable feedstocks including plain sugar. The company’s first product is “green” 1,4-butanediol, a chemical which is used to manufacture plastics. It is also the foundation for other chemical products. Now the challenge is to develop a microbe that is hardy enough to chew through gas produced from municipal solid waste.

New Life for Waste Gas

Municipal landfills aren’t the only places where renewable gas feedstocks can be harvested from waste. Over in New Zealand, a company called LanzaTech has developed a microbe-based process for converting waste gas from steel mills into ethanol. It sure makes a lot more sense to harvest chemical feedstocks from steel mills and landfills, rather than blowing up mountains or putting our coastal communities at risk.

Image: Landfill by D’Arcy Norman on flickr.com.

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Comments

You May Also Like

Clean Power

Researchers have developed floating “artificial leaves” that generate clean fuels from sunlight and water, and could eventually operate on a large scale at sea....

Clean Power

California is proceeding with a plan to install up to 25000 MW of electricity from offshore floating wind turbines by 2045.

Clean Power

Virginia is going from near-zero wind power to 2.6 gigawatts all at once, with the approval of a new offshore wind plan for Dominion...

Biofuels

Sebastian Vettel and the famous "Red 5" show the world how carbon-neutral racing can keep the old-school V10 cool.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.