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Microsoft climate fund invests $50M in LanzaJet alcohol-to-jet SAF plant

LanzaJet, a sustainable fuels technology company and renewable fuels producer, has secured financing for its Freedom Pines Fuels plant in Soperton, Georgia (earlier post), through the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. The Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund has made a $50-million investment to support the construction of LanzaJet’s (and the world’s) first alcohol-to-jet sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant.

The innovative structure of Microsoft’s financing will enable LanzaJet to bring lower-cost sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel to the global market.

LanzaJet produces SAF and renewable diesel from low-carbon, sustainable ethanol sources. LanzaJet’s proven ATJ process is a continuous catalytic process that converts ethanol to Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) or Synthetic Paraffinic Diesel (SPD) through four primary process steps that have each been proven at commercial scale: Dehydration, Oligomerization, Hydrogenation and Fractionation.

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The ethanol is first dehydrated to ethylene in the Dehydration section. The ethylene is then oligomerized into longer carbon chain olefins in the Oligomerization section, where the process operating conditions can be tuned to produce a high yield of either jet or diesel. The Hydrogenation section saturates any olefins to paraffins and iso-paraffins. Finally, the product is fractionated in the Fractionation section to isolate the SPK jet blend-stock as a stable, wide boiling, paraffinic kerosene that has superior properties to conventional jet fuel including improved energy density, freeze point and thermal stability. The remaining fraction is SPD with superior properties to conventional diesel.

This investment also creates the opportunity for LanzaJet and the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund to work together in enabling LanzaJet, through the Freedom Pines Fuels plant, to catalyze the market for second-generation, waste-based ethanol feedstock, demonstrating clear demand signals for ethanol that can achieve greater carbon reductions.

The construction of Freedom Pines Fuels is progressing as planned, even with supply chain, manufacturing, and labor shortages impacting the global economy. Fabrication of the plant is well underway; some modules are already completed and final site engineering is nearing completion. The LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels plant is expected to achieve mechanical completion this year and begin producing 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year from sustainable ethanol, including from waste-based feedstocks, in 2023.

The investment was made as part of Microsoft’s efforts to achieve its 2030 goal of becoming carbon negative and advancing a net-zero economy. It also allows Microsoft to access sustainable, renewable diesel for its data centers to enable Microsoft to further achieve its net-zero goals.

In September of 2021, the White House announced a target of 3 billion gallons of SAF produced per year by 2030. As part of that announcement, LanzaJet shared it would strive to achieve 1 billion gallons of SAF production in the US by 2030, significantly supporting US ambitions.

Private sector investment and government support are crucial to enabling the development and scale-up of new technologies to curb carbon emissions as the world tackles climate change. The collaboration between LanzaJet and the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund demonstrates that such an innovative investment approach breaks down barriers by deploying new technologies, improves our nation’s infrastructure, and creates new economic opportunities in rural communities. The development of LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels plant is also supported by funding from the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office.

Microsoft’s financial support of LanzaJet joins other LanzaJet funders including LanzaTech, Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., Mitsui & Co., Ltd., British Airways, Shell, and All Nippon Airways.

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