26. LanzaTech

Won't let carbon go to waste.

Founders: Dr. Richard Forster, Dr. Sean Simpson
CEO: Dr. Jennifer Holmgren
Launched: 2005
Headquarters: Chicago
$266.8 million
Valuation: N/A
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, robotics
Carbon recycling

George Kavallines | CNBC

LanzaTech uses microbes and waste gases — including those from the steel industry — to make fuels and chemicals. It claims it can displace 30 percent of the crude oil used today for energy, and in the process reduce CO2 emissions by 10 percent. This Chicago-based company's technology is akin to retrofitting a brewery onto an emission source, like a steel mill. But instead of using sugars and yeast to make beer, it's converting waste materials to make fuels and chemicals. That means there can be a day when a plane is powered by recycled greenhouse-gas emissions or when a pair of yoga pants are manufactured from the pollution coming from a steel mill.

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In July the company announced a partnership with Indian Oil to use refinery off-gases to make fuels and chemicals. This could save India about 1 million metric tons of CO2 a year. That same month, LanzaTech also announced a partnership with the South African company Swayana to make fuels from ferroalloy emissions. Both partnerships are slated to begin next year.

So far, the company has raised $250 million from venture capital investors, including Khosla Ventures, Mitsui and China International Investment. The first two commercial projects that are converting steel-mill waste gases into fuels are currently being built. One is in China, with Shougang; the other is in Belgium, with the world's biggest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal.