Carbon conversion specialist LanzaTech and food giant Danone have come up with technology that allows to turn CO2 into monoethylene glycol or MEG.
MEG is an essential component in polyethylene terephthalate or PET, commonly known as polyester. Hence, it is used in the production of fibers, resin, bottles, etc.
The novel technology recycles carbon dioxide emissions from waste biomass or steel mills and directly converts it into MEG with the help of a proprietary engineered bacterium.
The MEG is derived via fermentation, although the process skips the need for ethanol, and thus shortens the MEG supply chain.
LanzaTech and Danone have successfully tested the approach at lab scale and two external laboratories confirmed the presence of MEG.
In a comment on the recent breakthrough discovery, Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, said it has great potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire PET production process.
“This is a technological breakthrough which could have significant impact, with applications in multiple sectors, including packaging and textiles!” Holmgren added.
LanzaTech used a combination of AI tools and synthetic biology to create the new bacterium by prototyping different sets of enzymes.
As a result, the company ended up reprogramming its existing ethanol-making bacteria to make it start producing MEG from CO2.
Once scaled, LanzaTech expects the groundbreaking technology to significantly reduce the environmental impact of PET bottles and PET fibers.
And through partnerships such as with Danone, LanzaTech intends to help make food and beverage packaging greener and more sustainable.
Danone R&I Advanced Techno Materials Director Pascal Chapon said the collaboration between both companies would help spur the development of this unique technology and promote its scaling in the future.