When a major defense contractor like Lockheed Martin lays down some heavy stakes in the green energy field, you know it’s only a matter of time before fossil fuels lose their headlock on the global energy market. Lockheed recently teamed up with the green energy innovator Concord Blue Energy to take that company’s waste-to-energy technology global, and here’s where it gets really interesting: Concord Blue has just announced a new agreement to integrate its technology with the firm LanzaTech, which specializes in capturing carbon-loaded waste gas from industrial operations and converting it to high-value products.
Concord Blue Meets LanzaTech
Concord Blue Energy is a new name to CleanTechnica, so before we get to the Lockheed Martin stuff here’s a quick recap from Concord’s website:
Concord Blue has developed a closed-loop, commercially proven, non-incineration process that recycles nearly any form of waste, including landfill waste and sewage sludge, into energy at virtually any scale.
By non-incineration they mean gasification, which leads us straight to the mashup between Concord Blue and LanzaTech. In 2009 we noticed that LanzaTech had developed a microbe that munches down on the carbon monoxide from steel mill waste gas, and converts it to pure ethanol.
That seemed cool enough but the company one-upped itself just one year later, by tweaking the system to produce 2,3 Butanediol from waste gas. This substance is a precursor to other chemicals that are building blocks for manufacturing plastics, textiles, rubber and any number of other synthetic materials.
Fast forward to October 2013, and we find that LanzaTech has received a $4 million grant from the Department of Energy’s high tech ARPA-E program, with the aim of integrating its technology beyond industrial mills and into other carbon-emitting sites.
LanzaTech has wasted no time putting the grant into action, as the new agreement with Concord Blue demonstrates. It covers LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines facility in Soperton, Georgia (for all you Walking Dead fans out there, that’s only a couple of hours drive from Atlanta).
The project involves the integration of a Concord Blue “Reformer” waste-to-energy unit at Freedom Pines, which will pull in waste biomass from the region’s forestry industries. LanzaTech’s part will be to convert waste gas from the process into biofuels and chemicals.
The goal is to steer waste away from landfills and old school incinerators, and bump the waste recovery chain into generating higher-value byproducts, which will make the whole operation a commercially viable, attractive investment for companies around the world.
One thing to note about Concord Blue is the scalability of its system, which raises the potential for small companies to take advantage of the resource recovery opportunity, in addition to major companies.
Lockheed Martin And Green Energy
Now let’s take a look at how Lockheed Martin plays into all this. This past October, Lockheed announced an agreement with Concord Blue to take the company’s gasification process into global markets. Basically, the agreement will leverage Lockheed’s global experience in engineering, program management, procurement, manufacturing and integration.
The new agreement supports Lockheed’s rebranding of itself as a climate-aware company, expressed thusly:
Today, Lockheed Martin is partnering with customers and investing talent in clean, secure, and smart energy – enabling global security, a strong economic future, and climate protection for future generations.
We’ve spent plenty of time on these pages detailing the US Defense Department’s urgent climate change messaging, so it should be no surprise that its major contractors are at least paying lip service to the notion — I know, still strange in some quarters — that human activity has tipped the planet’s delicate carbon balance in a dangerous direction.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Lockheed’s other recent ventures into clean energy include an ocean thermal energy conversion project in partnership with the US Navy as well as a wave power project in Australia that hooks it up with another clean tech innovator that has Defense ties, US-based Ocean Power Technologies.
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