Disruptor 50 2020

43. LanzaTech

Founders: Dr. Sean Simpson, Dr. Richard Foster
CEO: Dr. Jennifer Holmgren
Launched: 2005
Headquarters: Chicago
 $395 million
Valuation: $460 million (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
AI, cloud computing, machine learning, nanotechnology, robotics, software-defined security
Carbon recycling
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 3 (No. 15 in 2019)

George Kavallines

LanzaTech, a Chicago-based company launched in 2005, produces next-generation "advanced" fuels by recycling waste industrial gases like those produced from steelmaking and other heavy industrial processes. The company then takes these waste, carbon-rich gases to make ethanol, which can then be used for a range of low carbon products, including jet fuel.

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In early June the company announced the spin-out of LanzaJet to bring sustainable aviation fuel to the commercial market. The new company was started with commitments from Mitsui & Co., the Japanese trading and investment company, and Canadian oil and gas producer Suncor Energy to invest $85 million to back the first pilot and development-scale facilities that LanzaJet will be constructing. The first $25 million of the investment will be used to build a plant that can produce 10 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel a year, as well as renewable diesel from sustainable ethanol sources.

In August the company raised $72 million from Novo Holdings to help LanzaTech expand its technology. Since the company's solutions can separate chemicals from commodity price fluctuations, it's enabling a new way of doing business. For instance, producers of synthetic fibers or plastics who want to use waste as a resource can now react quickly to market cycles when sourcing chemicals from a LanzaTech facility. It also helps these businesses avoid the environmental, economic or social consequences of using fossil fuels.

A look back at the CNBC Disruptor 50: 8 years, 209 companies