LanzaTech launches new LanzaJet venture following investment from Suncor and Mitsui to build new SAF demo facility
ANA ferry flight using LanzaTech's ATJ SAF
Fri 5 June 2020 – Alcohol-to-jet specialist LanzaTech has launched a new company, LanzaJet, to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel from sustainable ethanol sources. Investment in the venture totalling $25 million has been secured from Canadian integrated energy company Suncor Energy ($15m) and Mitsui ($10m). The funding will be used to build a demonstration plant expected to produce 10 million gallons per year starting in 2022. This initial investment, coupled with participation from All Nippon Airways (ANA), will complement an existing $14 million grant from the US Department of Energy to enable the construction at LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines site in Soperton, Georgia. In addition to its equity investment, Suncor has contracted to take a significant portion of the SAF and renewable diesel.
LanzaJet will be headed up by Jimmy Samartzis, who has joined as CEO and was formerly with United Airlines, Airlines for America and IATA.
“The launch of LanzaJet marks an historic milestone in the clean energy transition that is underway globally. I’ve been part of many renewable energy and sustainability firsts over the last decade, and this one is the most exciting,” he said. “The commercialisation of LanzaJet – built on the shoulders of LanzaTech, Suncor, Mitsui, ANA and with the support of the US Department of Energy – gives our world, and aviation in particular, an important solution in shaping a cleaner future.”
LanzaTech has been developing for some years a technology to convert industrial waste gases to ethanol, which can then be converted to sustainable jet fuel. However, to accelerate commercialisation and production of SAF, the biotech company has come up with a quicker route to market.
“Achieving our global climate goals requires scaling new, transformative technologies rapidly. This requires new methods of financing that enable scaling from lab to pilot to demo to commercial without stopping after each step to raise more cash,” explained Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “Suncor, Mitsui and ANA are stepping up to show that achieving meaningful scale will require new technologies, new business models and new approaches. I am delighted to see LanzaJet take off and to see Jimmy Samartzis lead the team as it brings this sustainable solution to market.”
The LanzaJet process can use any source of sustainable ethanol for jet fuel production, including, but not limited to, ethanol produced from LanzaTech’s proprietary carbon recycling platform. The US Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has developed a unique catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK), which LanzaTech has taken from laboratory to pilot scale.
“Our goal is that ATJ will allow a distributed feedstock solution, where a variety of locally available and sustainable sources of ethanol can be converted,” said a LanzaTech spokesperson. “In some cases, it may make sense to use ethanol from industrial waste gases, or other wastes and residues, processed using our technology and in other locations where there could be lots of second-generation sustainable ethanol available.”
LanzaTech’s first commercial plant in China has so far produced over 10 million gallons of ethanol from recycled steel mill emissions. Last year, Danish bio industrial investor Novo Holdings made a $72 million investment to grow LanzaTech’s sustainable fuels and chemicals business.
LanzaTech acquired the Freedom Pines biorefinery in 2012 and was where initial ATJ volumes were produced for flights undertaken by Virgin Atlantic and ANA. It is also being used to scale LanzaTech’s chemical platform. Construction of the ATJ commercial demonstration plant is expected to start in 2021 and be producing fuel by 2022. The site is around 250km from Atlanta but whether the SAF will be supplied to Atlanta Airport has yet to be defined. “We are working with Suncor and ANA to determine the best locations,” said the spokesperson.
Early last year, ANA signed an offtake agreement with LanzaTech to purchase its ATJ fuel. Following on from this agreement, ANA, Mitsui and JXTG Energy were selected by Japanese public R&D body NEDO to conduct a feasibility study on scaling the LanzaTech ATJ platform in Japan, with the aim of establishing a sustainable domestic supply chain for ATJ and long-term full commercial deployment. ANA and Mitsui launched the project by using SAF made from recycled carbon on a Boeing 777-300ER ferry flight from Seattle last October.
“We are pleased to launch LanzaJet along with excellent partners LanzaTech, Suncor and ANA,” said Toru Matsui, Managing Officer, COO of Mitsui & Co. “This partnership demonstrates our continuing commitment to improving the sustainability of the aviation industry and supports our ambition to be the first in Japan to produce SAF on a commercial scale. The SAF produced by LanzaJet will support the development of a global SAF supply chain, which has the potential to significantly reduce emissions from aviation and help to create a low carbon society.”
Added ANA EVP Akihiko Miura: “We believe that this partnership is a great step forward for carbon-neutral growth initiatives. ANA is happy to share in this innovative endeavour and to be a part of a carbon-free future in the aviation industry.”
Suncor and Mitsui are aiming to invest further in the construction of commercial production facilities after the demonstration meets all its technical and economic targets. The phased approach will see the initial investment followed by a capital call once all the demonstration milestones have been met, said LanzaTech.
“We believe this technology will provide a solid foundation for the commercial production of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel,” said Suncor CEO Mark Little. “These products are very complementary to our existing product mix and we see growth potential in both North American and international markets.”