An installation designed to convert carbon-containing gas from blast furnaces into bioethanol is being constructed at an ArcelorMittal site in Ghent, Belgium.

If successful, the technology could revolutionise blast furnace carbon emissions capture and support the decarbonisation of the transport sector, claims ArcelorMittal, the biggest steel manufacturer in the world.

Chicago-based LanzaTech developed the technology, which uses microbes that feed on carbon monoxide to produce bioethanol, and has licensed it to ArcelorMittal.

According to ArcelorMittal, “This is the first installation of its kind on an industrial scale in Europe and once complete, annual production of bioethanol at Ghent is expected to reach around 80 million litres, which will yield an annual CO2 saving equivalent to putting 100,000 electrical cars on the road.”

The company believes that the technology significantly advances its carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) capabilities and enhances steel’s role in the circular economy.

Carl De Mare, vice president of Technology Strategy at ArcelorMittal said: We are excited that after several years of research and engineering, we are now progressing with the largest project of its kind within the ArcelorMittal group.”

De Mare added: “This is the first application of a viable new business case where re-use of carbon is possible at large scale. We will achieve significant carbon reduction and we hope that this will lead us to a lower carbon economy.”

LanzaTech’s CEO, Jane Holmgren, said: “In order to succeed in decarbonising our economy, we will need the commitment of large companies and governments from around the world to ensure carbon reuse is part of the solution.”

According to Holmgren, the European facility at Ghent ‘embodies the principles of the circular economy and drives to a zero-waste steel production world.’

It is claimed that the new installation will create up to 500 construction jobs over the next two years and 20-30 new permanent direct jobs.

ArcelorMittal obtaining funding for the project from various sources including the European Union’s 2020 programme.

Commissioning and first production is expected by mid-2020.