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Dayton Engineer

How ETHOS Prepared Me for an International Career Working with Alternative Energy

By Steve Osgood

While I was at the University of Dayton, I wanted to work in the field of alternative energy, and I have finally achieved it.  In my current role I work for LanzaTech, a carbon recycling company, to help commercialize and commission their patented Gas Fermentation Technology. This process biologically converts waste gas into products we use every day. The process is like traditional fermentation but instead of sugars and yeast to make alcohol, they use waste emissions and bacteria to make fuels and chemicals. The flagship LanzaTech process produces fuels and chemicals that would otherwise come from fossil resources from steel mill waste gas. Steel mills are a major emitter of greenhouse gasses. This process provides a pathway to reducing emissions and keeping fossil resources in the ground. 

I have spent a significant amount of time in the last two years working in China getting our first ever commercial plant up and running, which can produce approximately 15 million gallons per year of ethanol.   This included training Chinese engineers and operators, verifying proper plant operations, and implementing maintenance and troubleshooting policies.  The company has a pipeline of global projects, including in Japan with the chemical company Sekisui, where unsorted, unrecyclable trash will be superheated to produce a synthetic gas that can be converted into fuels and chemicals; in Belgium, with the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. where steel mill offgas will be utilized, and in India, with Indian Oil Corporation where refinery offgas will be used.  

ETHOS did a great job in preparing me for a career working in an international environment.  Before going to Brazil and Bolivia to work on ecological stoves with ETHOS, I had only visited Canada and England.  Now I have visited over 40 countries.  The major strength that ETHOS contributed to my career is the ability to work with anyone, no matter their background, and be willing to get out of my comfort zone when placed in very difficult situations. For instance,  I remember my summer in Brazil wth ECOFAGAO, where I helped develop and deploy ecostoves, wood-burning stoves that use less wood and do not emit as much smoke as more traditional wood-burning stoves. I spent one day wandering around the Favelas figuring out how people were using our ecostoves and chowing down on rice and beans, and a week later I spent the day  hanging out with an owner of a gold mine who wanted to donate to charity or even use some of the stoves at one of his facility.  My career has been the same way, spending a day with a welder and mechanic trying to troubleshoot a pump, and the next day trying to explain a problem to a plant manager.  

Overall ETHOS did a great job in preparing me to work in the real world, in a fast-paced international environment, which is something you can’t get in a classroom!

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