Pacific Northwest National Laboratory partners with LanzaTech to - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory partners with LanzaTech to help create new kind of fuel

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RICHLAND: Reducing our carbon footprint has been something that we have been striving to do for years. There there are many easy ways we can reduce our footprint, like choosing to drive less, planting a garden, or recycling. But- What about using pollution to actually fuel the way we get from point A to point B.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently partnered with a Chicago-based biotech company to create a cleaner and more environmentally friendly fuel product. Lanza-Tech helps develop organisms, which in turn create things.

"One of those things means that the organisms can eat the carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide from a refinery or steel mill production," said Manager of PNNL Corinne Drennan.

In other words, they're using the pollution produced from that steel mill and converting it into ethanol; a chemical used in fuel. This product was used to power a Virgin Atlantic commercial flight earlier this month. The BIG question is: how exactly did PNNL have their hands in on this?

"We take the ethanol and convert it into jet fuel using a catalyst," said Corinne Drennan. 

A catalyst is another chemical that speeds up the process of turning the ethanol into a jet fuel.

"We had to make 5 gallons of jet fuel, and that took our staff a couple of months to do, just to make five gallon container," said Drennan. 

Lanza-Tech then scaled up this process to make 5 tons of recyclable fuel.

"It's really fun to imagine a world where you can make an airplane. In manufacturing the steel in that airplane,then you can use it to make the fuel that goes in that airplane. That's really incredible to think about," said Drennan.

The next step from here is to get all airlines on board in order to move towards a cleaner environment.

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