LanzaTech UK and direct air capture technology company Carbon Engineering have partnered on a project to create sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Project AtmosFUEL will investigate the feasibility of a large-scale, commercial air-to-jet facility in the UK that will produce more than 100 million liters of SAF each year.
The proposed facility is targeted to be operational by the end of the decade and will demonstrate how this infrastructure can be rolled out across the UK and elsewhere to deliver aviation emission reductions. The project is one of eight projects shortlisted for the UK Department for Transport’s Green Fuels Green Skies Competition that will share £15 million (US$21 million) in government funding to support plant development. (Earlier post.)
The project team, consisting of LanzaTech, CE, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, will examine how two proven technologies can be integrated to recycle atmospheric CO2 into ultra-low carbon jet fuel.
CE’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology will capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere so it can be fed into LanzaTech’s Gas Fermentation process to produce low carbon ethanol. The ethanol will then be converted into SAF using the LanzaJet Alcohol-To-Jet technology, developed by LanzaTech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The fuel will undergo certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Materials, globally recognized as the most robust approach to sustainability for the bio-based and circular economy. By recycling existing atmospheric CO2, the SAF produced will offer a more than 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.
Due to an unlimited feedstock—atmospheric CO2—this solution can be scaled up to deliver large-scale quantities of SAF to help meet the UK’s 10% SAF by 2030 and up to 75% SAF by 2050 proposals, the partners said.
The technologies enabling project AtmosFUEL are proven climate solutions that are being deployed globally. CE is working with 1PointFive, which in 2022 plans to begin construction in the US of the world’s largest DAC plant capable of capturing one million tonnes of CO2 each year. In the UK, in partnership with Storegga, engineering has begun on a facility that will remove between 500,000 and one million tonnes of atmospheric CO2 each year.
LanzaTech’s first commercial gas fermentation plant has produced more than 20 million gallons of ethanol, and the company has been working with the UK government and several industrial partners to build the world’s first commercial-scale, waste-ethanol-based Alcohol-to-Jet production facility in South Wales.
Project AtmosFUEL marks the first integration of these technologies.