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LanzaTech moving forward on scale-up of sustainable aviation fuels in US and Japan

LanzaTech continues to make strides in scaling up its alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) platform. Commercialization of the ATJ process has been years in the making, starting with the partnership between LanzaTech and the US Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. PNNL developed a unique catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) which LanzaTech took from the lab to pilot scale.

After initial scale-up, qualification by ASTM and the first commercial flight with Virgin Atlantic, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from captured pollution is ready for full-scale demonstration and commercialization.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is in the negotiation stage with LanzaTech for a $14 million investment in a demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery at LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines site in Soperton, Georgia, according to Michael Berube, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the DOE.

LanzaTech still has some remaining work to do under the initial award, and we have some negotiations to complete. But we’re very excited about the prospects of this project and what it could mean for demonstrating the viability of drop-in biofuels in the United States.

—Michael Berube

This investment follows the FY2015 Project Development for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower FOA, under which LanzaTech’s proposal was selected for a feasibility study to plan and design an integrated biorefinery that will produce low-carbon jet and diesel fuels.

LanzaTech’s process can use any source of sustainable ethanol for jet fuel production, including ethanol made from recycled pollution. LanzaTech’s first commercial plant in China has produced more than 10 million gallons of ethanol from recycled steel mill emissions to date.

The flexibility of the technology to utilize a variety of local waste feedstocks attracted the attention of All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest 5-Star airline for seven consecutive years, resulting in an offtake agreement with LanzaTech signed earlier this year, allowing ANA to purchase sustainable aviation fuel from LanzaTech’s process.

Following on from this agreement, ANA, strategic investor in LanzaTech, Mitsui & Co., and JXTG Energy have been selected by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to conduct a feasibility study on scaling the LanzaTech ATJ (alcohol-to-jet) platform in Japan. Together the partners will establish a sustainable domestic supply chain for ATJ, key to achieving full commercial deployment in Japan.

ANA and Mitsui & Co. kicked off the project by conducting a Boeing 777-300ER ferry flight using sustainable aviation fuel made from recycled carbon on 30 October 2019. As the fuel producer, LanzaTech worked closely with all partners, advising how best to transport and blend the fuel for loading on the aircraft.

Sustainable aviation fuel reduces carbon emissions by up to 80% and is a key element of the industry’s climate action strategy. ANA’s flight demonstrated once again that sustainable fuel blends perfectly with conventional fuel without the need for any changes to the airplane, engines or airport fueling infrastructure.

—Sheila Remes, vice president of strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes

LanzaTech’s carbon capture platform for SAF is now poised for scale-up in the United States and Japan. Also, in the UK, LanzaTech is a shortlisted applicant for a grant from the UK Department for Transport (DfT).

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