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Through a new partnership and $72 million in funding, LanzaTech expands its carbon capture tech

For nearly fifteen years LanzaTech has been developing a carbon capture technology that can turn waste streams into ethanol that can be used for chemicals and fuel.

Now, with $72 million in fresh funding at a nearly $1 billion valuation and a newly inked partnership with biotechnology giant, Novo Holdings, the company is looking to expand its suite of products beyond ethanol manufacturing, thanks, in part, to the intellectual property held by Novozymes (a Novo Holdings subsidiary).

“We are learning how to modify our organisms so they can make things other than ethanol directly,” said LanzaTech chief executive officer, Jennifer Holmgren.

From its headquarters in Skokie, Ill., where LanzaTech relocated in 2014 from New Zealand, the biotechnology company has been plotting ways to reduce carbon emissions and create a more circular manufacturing system. That’s one where waste gases and solid waste sources that were previously considered to be un-recyclable are converted into chemicals by LanzaTech’s genetically modified microbes.

The company already has a commercial manufacturing facility in China, attached to a steel plant operated by the Shougang Group, which produces 16 million gallons of ethanol per-year. LanzaTech’s technology pipes the waste gas into a fermenter, which is filled with genetically modified yeast that uses the carbon dioxide to produce ethanol. Another plant, using a similar technology is under construction in Europe.

Through a partnership with Indian Oil, LanzaTech is working on a third waste gas to ethanol using a different waste gas taken from a Hydrogen plant.

The company has also inked early deals with airlines like Virgin in the UK and ANA in Japan to make an ethanol-based jet fuel for commercial flight. And a third application of the technology is being explored in Japan which takes previously un-recyclable waste streams from consumer products and converts that into ethanol and polyethylene that can be used to make bio-plastics or bio-based nylon fabrics.

Through the partnership with Novo Holdings, LanzaTech will be able to use the company’s technology to expand its work into other chemicals, according to chief executive Jennifer Holmgren. “We are making product to sell into that [chemicals market] right now. We are taking ethanol and making products out of it. Taking ethylene and we will make polyethylene and we will make PET to substitute for fiber.”

Holmgren said that LanzaTech’s operations were currently reducing carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off the road.

“LanzaTech is addressing our collective need for sustainable fuels and materials, enabling industrial players to be part of building a truly circular economy,” said Anders Bendsen Spohr, Senior Director at Novo Holdings, in a statement. “Novo Holdings’ investment underlines our commitment to supporting the bio-industrials sector and, in particular, companies that are developing cutting-edge technology platforms. We are excited to work with the LanzaTech team and look forward to supporting the company in its next phase of growth.”

Holmgren said that the push into new chemicals by LanzaTech is symbolic of a resurgence of industrial biotechnology as one of the critical pathways to reducing carbon emissions and setting industry on a more sustainable production pathway.

“Industrial biotechnology ca unlock the utility of a lot of waste carbon emissions. ” said Holmgren. “[Municipal solid waste] is an urban oil field. And we are working to find new sources of sustainable carbon.”

LanzaTech isn’t alone in its quest to create sustainable pathways for chemical manufacturing. Solugen, an upstart biotechnology company out of Houston, is looking to commercialize the bio-production of hydrogen peroxide. It’s another chemical that’s at the heart of modern industrial processes — and is incredibly hazardous to make using traditional methods.

As the world warms, and carbon emissions continue to rise, it’s important that both companies find pathways to commercial success, according to Holmgren.

“It’s going to get much much worse if we don’t do anything,” she said.

Scientists are looking for the owner of a USB drive which was found in seal poop

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USB drives are unfortunately small and easy to lose.

If you happened to misplace one on the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, scientists from the country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are looking for you.

Just how they found it is rather interesting: The USB drive was found in the poop of a leopard seal, which had been sitting in a NIWA freezer since November 2017.

Three weeks ago, volunteers pulled out the sample for researchers to study, which starts by defrosting the poop. Read more…

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New Zealand bans new offshore oil exploration to tackle climate change

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New Zealand’s oil and gas industry is a sizeable part of the country’s economy, but it’ll be stopping all new offshore exploration to address climate change.

“There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in an announcement on Thursday. 

The decision will only apply to new permits that are put out to tender annually, with existing licenses not to be affected. Some of these permits still have more than a decade left to go.

There are 31 oil and gas exploration permits in the country, with 22 located offshore. New Zealand’s oil and gas industry contributes NZ$2.5 billion (US$1.8 billion) to its GDP, according to PEPANZ, an organisation which represents the country’s petroleum industry. Read more…

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Apparently impressed by their appetite for mornings, company offers thieves a ‘job’

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Theft is never fun, but thankfully some people see some humour in it.

A New Zealand business called Smith Crane & Construction put up a Facebook post on Tuesday to find the people who stole their tools on Saturday morning — so they can offer them a job.

“We thought you might like to come and work for us? Maybe make an honest living instead of thieving off us?” reads the post.

It appears the owners are more impressed at the thieves’ ability to get out of bed on time, have a working knowledge of power tools, and have a truck to drive around, than annoyed by the theft. Read more…

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New Zealand’s prime minister looks like the lead of a crime show in her Vogue shoot

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It’s somewhat rare for New Zealand politicians to attract global attention, but Jacinda Ardern’s star continues to rise.

The current New Zealand Prime Minister is featured in the March issue of Vogue, where she’s been labelled the “anti-Trump,” admired for the way she speaks about poverty and homelessness with a “blend of Bernie Sanders’s bluntness and Elizabeth Warren’s fearlessness.”

But of course, being Vogue, there was plenty of attention dedicated to Ardern’s photoshoot. Clarke Gayford, Ardern’s partner, made the photo his wallpaper.

….well thats the desktop sortedpic.twitter.com/9YlqkiwPEZ

— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) February 15, 2018 Read more…

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Lorde’s cancellation of Israel show sparks meeting request with its ambassador

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Lorde’s decision to cancel her performance in Israel has been suitably contentious.

Now Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand has requested to meet with the Grammy-winning singer following her decision to pull out of her Tel Aviv show in May.

In an open letter posted on Facebook Wednesday, ambassador Itzhak Gerberg called the decision “regrettable” and criticised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for pressuring the singer into cancelling her show.

“Music is a wonderful language of tolerance and friendship, which brings people together,” the letter reads. “Your concert in Israel could have spread the message that solutions come from constructive engagement that leads to compromise and cooperation.” Read more…

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Aspiring poet’s rejection letter from 1928 is delightfully brutal

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No one likes being rejected, especially when you receive a letter that gives your work an absolute dressing down.  

Penned by Australian publisher Angus & Robertson in 1928, the letter is addressed to Frederick Charles Meyer of Katoomba, who had sent a sample of his writing to the company.

The letter was sent by Kylie Parkinson to the Twitter page Letters of Note, who posted it on Tuesday. You’d rarely come across a letter as stern, albeit eloquent as this.

All other rejection letters can step down. We have a winnerpic.twitter.com/dQijZsIgqL

— Letters of Note (@LettersOfNote) December 3, 2017 Read more…

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Tim Cook tweets congratulatory message to Australia but uses the wrong flag

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Looks like Tim Cook might have sent this tweet out a little too quickly.

The Apple CEO on Wednesday congratulated Australia on saying “yes” to same-sex marriage — except he added an emoji of the flag of New Zealand.

Congratulations Australia! Another important step toward equality for all. 🇦🇺 #MarriageEquality

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) November 15, 2017

The original tweet was quickly deleted and a new tweet sent out, this time, with the correct flag.

The original tweet that was sent out

The original tweet that was sent out

Image: @officialmicca/twitter

But the mistake had already been spotted by some on Twitter, and one guy pointed out how it’s tough searching for emoji on Apple’s keyboard: Read more…

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New Zealand’s bird of the year is a highly cheeky parrot known for messing with humans

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New Zealand, you’re alright.

What other country, teeming with magnificent, yet sadly endangered wildlife, would have an annual bird of the year competition?

Perpetual natural paradise New Zealand has announced the winner for the country’s 13th bird of the year, awarded to the world’s only alpine parrot, the kea.

What’s a kea? It’s an unusual olive-green parrot found in the country’s southern alps, known for its intelligence, cheekiness, and curiosity — something that can “get them into trouble,” according to the BOTY website. Read more…

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New Zealanders worry about a ‘chipocalypse’ as potato supply drops

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We don’t want to ever live in a world where there is a “chipocalypse.”

No wonder New Zealanders are concerned at the prospect, as 20 percent of potato crops have been lost due to extended periods of wet weather, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Supermarkets have indicated to the newspaper there might be a shortage in potato crisps, as manufacturers have a smaller cut of potato crops in the country. Normal potato supply won’t return until the new year.

When the chips are down, people are going to freak out — a bit — on social media. Read more…

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Little girl rides her pony through a corner store to pick up treats

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You’ll probably get turned away from your local drive-thru riding on your horse.

But it’s not a problem at this corner store (or dairy, as they like to call it), located in Opotiki, a small town on New Zealand’s North Island. Well, if you can both fit in the store, obviously.

Here a little girl, 3-year-old Paris Smith, rides on her pony through the Tirohanga Beach Store to pick up some candy, in a video posted on the shop’s Facebook page on Friday. 

“Look, only in Opotiki,” a man can be heard saying on camera.

Riding through the store is apparently a long-running tradition, owner Ray Williams told the New Zealand Herald. Read more…

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Seal pup found on farm is a long, long way from home

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Seals having a wander inland are an occasional occurrence, but this cub is perhaps a little too young to go walkabout.

Dee Knapp from Invercargill, New Zealand was looking for new lambs on his property when he saw what initially appeared to be an injured bird, reported the New Zealand Herald.

It turned out to be a baby seal, and boy, it was a long way away from home, as per a video uploaded by Knapp to Facebook.

“Well blow me away, it’s a baby seal in the middle of my paddock, in the middle of nowhere,” Knapp told the newspaper.  Read more…

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New Zealand lays claim to the 'British classic' that is mince toast

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The anger from Brits over mince toast was palpable. 

Mince toast! How dare the Americans — specifically food website Eaterclaim the dish was a “quintessential British comfort classic.” 

That was according to a video it posted on Monday, in which it visited London’s Quality Chop House. But many Brits said they’ve never eaten it.

British restaurant critic Jay Rayner, who once described upscale Paris restaurant Le Cinc as being decorated in shades of “fuck you,” weighed in on Twitter.

For god sake @eater what are you on? Apart from mince on toast, something I have never eatenhttps://t.co/1zfJTI18uG

— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) July 10, 2017 Read more…

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German insurance ad slammed for its 'cheap ripoff' of a Maori haka

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Unfortunate that it has to be said in 2017, but please don’t appropriate other peoples’ culture.

A German insurance company, ARAG, is facing online backlash for a TV spot that features a dance imitating a traditional Maōri haka, a culturally important dance performed on significant occasions and imbued with reverence. 

The ad features actors performing the haka, or at least a dance inspired by it, in the middle of a street, chanting in German.

ARAG said in a Facebook comment that the haka is “ideally suited to bring our messages across,” due to its “rhythm, impressive gestures and facial expressions and determination.”  Read more…

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Guinea pig police mascot is here to melt hearts and teach you about road safety

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You’re already used to the fuzz telling you about road safety, but what about a ball of fuzz?

We’re certainly a fan of what appears to be New Zealand Police’s newest mascot, a guinea pig named Constable Elliot, who is also dressed as a cop.

Just look at it.

Constable Elliot turns out to be not a well-seasoned member of the force, but rather a family pet of one of the members of New Zealand Police’s media team.

“According to his human ‘mum’ he’s pampered, and loves going on trips to explore new food supplies, which is what he was doing yesterday,” according to a comment by NZ Police on its Facebook page. Read more…

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Lorde impersonator fools partygoers into thinking she's the real thing

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Lorde is from New Zealand, so the prospect of the singer dropping into a local party for an impromptu performance is unlikely, but not impossible.

Some attendees at the weekly “No Lights, No Lycra” party, which takes place at Auckland’s Grey Lynn Library, were convinced she was there performing Monday night. 

After all, the event had promoted a very special guest: “This week we have a bit of a surprise and you will NOT want to miss it,” read the event’s description on Facebook.

“No Lights, No Lycra” is an event where people can dance wildly in pitch black darkness without the anxiety of being looked at, as opposed to a nightclub.  Read more…

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56-year-old model Mercy Brewer stuns in new lingerie campaign

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Ageing is an inescapable part of life — and who would want to? Not this 56-year-old model, that’s for sure.

Scottish woman Mercy Brewer was a fixture of the London ’80s punk scene, and decades later, she’s still repping that “f*ck you” attitude, posing for New Zealand cult intimates label, Lonely Lingerie, in a quietly powerful shoot.

Shot by photographer Harry Were, the shoot is an intimate ode to the woman who stars in it. And the way she’s challenging beauty standards isn’t lost on Brewer. 

“Perceptions of beauty have and always will change, therefore I think we can conclude its standard is not set in stone and new beauty is always waiting to be discovered,” she said in a statement.  Read more…

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Get free flights to New Zealand, y'all. But only if you accept a job interview

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If you’re working in the tech world, New Zealand wants YOU. Specifically, the city of Wellington — self-titled tech and innovation capital of the South Pacific. 

A program called Looksee Wellington is giving 100 people free flights and accommodation to check out the city for a week. But there’s a catch. 

The city is yours to visit and explore, but you’ll also need to commit to pre-arranged job interviews with tech companies in the area.

The city is home to companies like accounting software group Xero and Weta Digital, who did the visual effects in Avatar and Lord of the Rings. Read more…

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Secret citizen Peter Thiel thinks he is God's gift to New Zealand, basically

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President Donald Trump’s man in Silicon Valley, Peter Thiel has options should his current political experiment not work out. 

In January, the New Zealand Herald uncovered that the infamous venture capitalist had been a New Zealand citizen since 2011, raising eyebrows around the world. Just how Thiel obtained the passport was revealed Wednesday, after the government released an 145-page file on the matter.

Thiel became a New Zealand citizen at a private consular ceremony in Santa Monica, the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) told Mashable.

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