A Lockport company has been hired to participate in a project that will convert carbon dioxide into jet fuel.
Chemical Design Inc., located on Market Street, has been hired by LanzaJet, a company focused on the transition to sustainable fuel and decarbonization. Through its parent company, Zeton International, CDI will be working with LanzaJet on a part of the chemical processing needed for the goal.
“There’s some trace impurities that need to be removed, because otherwise it would deactivate a catalyst,” James Ibaugh, president of CDI, said. “The process converts the ethanol into ethylene and then from there it makes a heavier hydrocarbon jet fuel. Chemical Design’s involvement is only removing impurities. Two or three different steps.”
CDI was an independent company in Lockport since 1959; it was bought by Zeton in September 2019. It has been doing the same kind of work it's always done, removing impurities from gasses, natural gas and petrochemicals. Ibaugh said there’s a lot of synergies between Zeton and CDI, which can be seen through their common customer, LanzaJet, and its project to make travel more green.
“Jet fuel typically comes from fossil fuels, petroleum based,” Leisl Dukhedin-Lala, president and CEO of Zeton, said. “LanzaJet has technology that makes ethanol from carbon dioxide in a bioreactor using 'bugs.' That ethanol is then used to make ethylene, then ethylene is then used in process to make jet fuel. So, the idea is that LanzaJet is reducing the carbon footprint with CO2 utilization to make jet fuel.”
Zeton is technology neutral, said Dukhedin-Lalla, who works with companies like LanzaJet to develop its end-goal technology. Dukhedin-Lalla noted that Zeton works with several competing technologies and has gained a reputation of trust and confidentiality.
Dukhedin-Lalla also said that the procurement of CDI by Zeton is an interesting story.
“I have a connection to Lockport and I was walking along Market Street and I saw this sign, ‘Chemical Design Inc.,’ and I wondered what do these guys do?” she said. “I Googled them and then I came back to my boss in Canada, and I told him to look on their website. They do very similar work to what Zeton does, in many ways, and I asked if we know these guys.”
When Zeton started looking for an operating plant in the U.S., CDI was high on their list because of its locality.
“That’s how it got started,” she said. “I went on a walk.”