Avinor to support new Norwegian sustainable aviation fuel pilot plant while Japan's ANA signs with LanzaTech
Wed 17 July 2019 – Norwegian airport operator Avinor has entered into an agreement with technology company Qantafuel to purchase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from forestry residues to be produced in a new pilot plant that will be partly funded by state enterprise Enova. Avinor has committed NOK 8 million ($930,000) towards the project’s development. Meanwhile, Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), has signed an offtake contract with LanzaTech to purchase its sustainable aviation fuel. Full details of the agreement have not been released but ANA said it is targeting 2021 for first delivery. This follows a partnership the airline agreed last year with Mitsui, which had itself invested $20 million in 2014 towards development of LanzaTech’s advanced micro-organism gas fermentation technology.
Located near Oslo, Qantafuel has developed technology to produce high-quality synthetic fuels and chemical products based on non-recyclable plastic waste. Over the past decade the patented technology converts mixed plastic waste to low-carbon, advanced fuel and chemicals that may be used for new plastic production. Its first plant located in Denmark is in its final stages of development and the company is now turning its attention to the conversion of biomass to liquid fuels.
Qantafuel says the new pilot plant, to be centrally located in eastern Norway, will give it the necessary experience to consider a full-scale plant with a preliminary capacity of 7-9 million litres of fuel per year.
“Aviation in Europe is undergoing major changes, where political decisions driven by environmental concerns are materialising in new mixture requirements that promote bio-based fuel. Qantafuel’s goal is to commercialise its proprietary technologies and this project, in partnership with strong players in Norwegian aviation, is a big step in that direction,” said CEO Kjetil Bøhn.
“With the new agreement, Qantafuel will establish and produce biofuel based on residues from the Norwegian forestry industry. This focus on biomass would not have been possible without the support of Enova and an agreement with Avinor.”
Owned by the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Enova was established to contribute to GHG emission reductions and provide long-term support for technology development, as well as strengthen energy supply security.
The Norwegian aviation industry commissioned a report from consultancy Rambøll and published in 2017 that showed 30%, or 400 million litres, of all jet fuel supplied at Avinor’s airports by 2030 could be sustainable, based on deliveries from the forestry industry (see article).
In January 2016, Oslo Airport became the first international hub to supply SAF on a commercial basis through its normal refuelling infrastructure to airlines and the scheme was extended the following year to include Bergen Airport.
“It is very pleasing that Qantafuel is now taking a new step to contribute to Norwegian resources being used for jet biofuel,” said Avinor Executive Vice President Margrethe Snekkerbakken. “The potential is huge and will in addition to addressing climate impact, also form the basis for increased added value and jobs in Norway. We’re looking forward to the results from the pilot project.”
Meanwhile, ANA said it selected LanzaTech’s industrial waste gas emissions to ethanol product for its “flexibility and high energy density” as well as its lack of sulphur content. The ethanol is converted into jet fuel using technology developed in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL).
ANA says it is planning to use LanzaTech fuel on a delivery flight later this year.
“ANA has always been guided by our values, and our decision to transition to sustainable aviation fuel reflects how seriously we take our commitment to the environment,” said Akihiko Miura, Executive Vice President of ANA. “Adopting this advanced fuel will allow us to reduce CO2 emissions and meet the ambitious sustainable development goals that we have set for the airline. At ANA, we seek innovative solutions to the most pressing problems, and we will continue looking for ways to reduce our ecological impact in order to create a better world.”
In January 2019, ANA partnered with Showa Shell Sekiyu to purchase 70,000 US gallons of SAF for use on San Francisco flights, which it said would lead to the reduction of around 150 tons of CO2. It has already used SAF produced by World Energy for flights from San Francisco and previously at Los Angeles in conjunction with other airlines but said the January purchase was its first direct contract.
ANA has shown interest in partnering with national initiatives to develop SAF production, including in 2015 with Japanese microalgae company Euglena, which had planned to build a demonstration plant in Yokohama to produce jet biofuel from algae from 2018 but has yet to progress (see article). Also in 2015, ANA joined a Japanese consortium of airline, aviation and other industry organisations, together with academic and government bodies, with the aim of SAF commercial production in time for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo but this initiative also appears to have stalled (see article).