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Sole U.S. finalist for Earthshot Prize turns carbon pollution into everything from party dresses to jet fuel

Pollutant to product
Chicago-based startup in running for global Earthshot Prize hosted by Prince William 03:34

LanzaTech's carbon recycling technology earned it a spot as one of 15 finalists for The Earthshot Prize — one of the world's top environmental prizes.  

The Prince and Princess of Wales are set to attend the second annual awards ceremony in Boston on Friday for the prize, which was established by Prince William. 

The Chicago-based company is the only U.S. finalist in the competition this year.  

LanzaTech's technology has the ability to turn planet-warming carbon pollution into everything from party dresses and plastic bottles to Lululemon gym shorts, household cleaning products and jet fuel that powered a recent Virgin Atlantic flight from Orlando to London. 

Jennifer Holmgren, CEO Of LanzaTech, told CBS News the company produces real products at a commercial scale. 

"It's real. It's not science fiction. We've made it work," Holmgren said. 

The company has three facilities attached to steel plants in China that capture carbon emissions before they're released into the atmosphere and converts them into ethanol — the building blocks of countless products. 

In a demonstration lab in Chicago, carbon dioxide comes through reactors before microbes consume it, making ethanol.  

But it doesn't come cheap — each of LanzaTech's facilities costs about $100 million and can take years to build.  

But Holmgren said she believes the technology could eventually cut global carbon emissions by 10% and help clean up often-toxic air in countries such as China and India. 

It can also be used to make products from the carbon found in landfills.  

"We believe in a future where there is no such thing as pollution or waste," she said.  

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