15. LanzaTech

Transporting the world to a low-carbon future

Founders: Dr. Sean Simpson, Dr. Richard Foster
CEO: Dr. Jennifer Holmgren
Launched: 2005
Headquarters: Chicago
$278.4 million
Valuation: $440.2 million (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning, nanotechnology, robotics
Carbon recycling

George Kavallines | CNBC

As global energy demand grows from our increased population, so too does the level of CO2. LanzaTech has the carbon-capture solutions to address this dilemma. The Skokie, Illinois-based company uses microbes and carbon-rich waste gases — including those from the steel industry — to make ethanol. The ethanol can then be turned into chemicals and fuels, including low carbon products like jet fuel.


In fact, for the first time, the company and Virgin Atlantic flew a Boeing 747 in October from Orlando to London using LanzaTech's jet fuel, greatly cutting down on the amount of CO2 produced. There have been other developments as well.

In May 2018 the company started its first commercial case by taking the emissions from a Shougang Steel Mill in China and converting it into millions of gallons of ethanol that can later be used as fuel or to make other products that would otherwise come from petroleum. So far, it has produced more than 4 million gallons of ethanol for the Chinese road transport market. And in August it partnered with Indian Oil to set up a pilot plant to convert CO2 to Omega 3 fatty acids. The lipids that result can then be used for medicine, food or fuel. This could save India 1 million metric tons of CO2 a year.

LanzaTech has raised $268 million from venture capital investors, including Khosla Ventures, Mitsui and China International Investment.

Latest Special Reports

  • CNBC’s Women & Wealth explores ways that women can increase their income, save for the future and make the most out of current opportunities.

  • Unlock the keys to building a successful long-term financial plan: manage your money, grow your money, and protect it.

  • In a world of big box retail and e-commerce, successful business owners are taking new paths to Main Street success.