British Airways will power future flights with sustainable aviation fuel produced from sustainably-sourced ethanol, as part of a new partnership with sustainable jet fuel company LanzaJet. British Airways will invest in LanzaJet’s first commercial-scale Freedom Pines Fuels facility in Georgia and acquire cleaner burning sustainable aviation fuel from the plant.
BA expects the fuel to be available to power a number of its flights by the end of 2022. In addition, the partnership will involve LanzaJet implementing early stage planning and design for a potential commercial facility for British Airways in the UK.
The new partnership is in addition to British Airways’ existing partnership with Velocys to build a sustainable aviation fuel plant in the UK, which could produce SAF from 2025.
The plant in Georgia is due to begin construction this year. The fuel produced at the plant will deliver a reduction of more than 70% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil jet fuel, equivalent to taking almost 27,000 petrol or diesel cars off the road each year.
The sustainable aviation fuel produced by LanzaJet is made via the LanzaJet Alcohol to Jet (AtJ) Process, which can use any source of sustainable ethanol, including, but not limited to, ethanol made from non-edible agricultural residues such as wheat straw and recycled pollution. Commercialization of AtJ has been years in the making, starting with the partnership between LanzaTech (which launched LanzaJet in June 2020) and the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
The development and use of sustainable aviation fuels is a major focus for British Airways and forms part of the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 through a series of short, medium and long-term initiatives. The airline has an existing partnership with sustainable fuels technology company Velocys, with the goal of building a facility to convert household and commercial waste into renewable sustainable jet fuel in the UK. Fuel could be produced by 2025. British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group, will be investing US$400 million in sustainable aviation fuel over the next 20 years.
British Airways has a roadmap to meet its net zero 2050 target. In the short-term, the airline is improving its operational efficiency, flying more fuel-efficient aircraft and introducing carbon offset and removal projects. The airline currently offsets emissions on all flights within the UK and offers customers the option to voluntarily offset their emissions if travelling further afield. In the medium- to long-term, in addition to the airline’s investment in the development of sustainable aviation fuel, it is also looking at technological solutions such as zero emissions hydrogen aircraft and carbon capture technology.
LanzaJet was launched in June 2020 and is a spin-off from leading biotech company LanzaTech. British Airways will be joining LanzaTech, Mitsui and Suncor Energy as investors in LanzaJet. With the addition of British Airways, LanzaJet now plans to develop a further four larger scale plants operating from 2025, producing a pipeline of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel made from sustainable feedstocks, to support and enable the global decarbonization of the aviation sector.
British Airways and LanzaTech are also part of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between government and industry to drive forward the UK Government’s net zero-emission ambitions for the aviation and aerospace sector, with a focus on sustainable aviation fuels.
Background. The LanzaJet partnership is a collaboration between British Airways and Hangar 51, International Airlines Group’s (IAG) industry leading accelerator program. British Airways’ parent company IAG was the first airline group worldwide to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It has also been instrumental in setting up the United Nations’ first global carbon offsetting scheme—CORSIA—which enables airlines to reduce their emissions by purchasing equivalent carbon reductions from a diverse range of projects around the world, ensuring collective capping of the sector’s emissions at 2019 levels.
A recently announced EU Consortium called FLITE (Fuel via Low Carbon Integrated Technology from Ethanol) led by SkyNRG and LanzaTech will build a first of its kind LanzaJet AtJ facility in Europe after receiving €20 million in grant funding from the EU H2020 program, resulting from a proposal supported by British Airways’ parent company, IAG.