Nov 18, 2022 - Business

Illinois company makes finals of Prince William's climate contest

Photo of people in labcoats staring at wires.
A laboratory in LanzaTech’s R&D center dedicated to fermentation process optimization. Photo courtesy of LanzaTech

Prince William of Wales launched the Earthshot Prize Awards last year, an international contest to fund the world's most promising projects in five categories: "protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world, and fix our climate."

Driving the news: Skokie-based LanzaTech was recently named the only American finalist in this year's competition.

  • The company uses carbon-hungry microbes to transform emissions into valuable raw materials that can create jet fuel, yoga pants, shoes and cleaning products.

What they're saying: "When we found out, we were all screaming at each other in joy!" ​​Freya Burton, LanzaTech's chief sustainability officer, tells Axios.

  • "When we started [15 years ago], people thought what we were doing was impossible. No one was talking about using carbon back then, and certainly no one thought we could use biology like this at an industrial scale."

The intrigue: Burton says LanzaTech is already "working with our partners to create dresses, shorts, shoes, and cleaning products from carbon emissions. … In the next five years, you will not only see more products made from carbon emissions, but consumers will hold companies accountable for where their carbon comes from.

"What's next: Every year this decade, five projects will be awarded £ 1 million each to scale their work.

  • This year's final prize winners will be announced at a Dec. 2 ceremony, but even if LanzaTech doesn't win the big dough, Burton says being a finalist has already increased the enterprise's exposure to companies seeking to turn their pollution into useful materials.
  • Burton believes winning the prize would increase LanzaTech's capacity to "help more companies adapt their supply chains, keep fossil fuels in the ground and create a post-pollution future."

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