British Airways enters second sustainable aviation fuel partnership

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British Airways is to power future flights with sustainable aviation fuel produced from sustainably-sourced ethanol, as part of a new partnership with sustainable jet fuel company LanzaJet.

The new fuel delivers a 70% reduction in greenhouse gases, compared with conventional aviation fuel.

Key points:

  • British Airways is investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) technology provider and SAF producer LanzaJet as the company builds its first commercial scale plant in Georgia, USA
  • British Airways will purchase SAF from LanzaJet’s US plant to power a number of the airline’s flights from late 2022
  • Deal also involves LanzaJet conducting early stage planning for a potential large scale commercial SAF biorefinery in the UK
  • The announcement 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
  • Investing to enable the commercial development of SAF forms part of the airline’s medium-term initiatives to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • The airline is delivering a range of short, medium and long-term initiatives to decarbonise and achieve net zero by 2050

The partnership, which reflects the importance the airline is placing on sustainability and its continued investment in sustainable aviation fuel, will see British Airways invest in LanzaJet’s first commercial scale Freedom Pines Fuels facility in Georgia, USA and acquire cleaner burning sustainable aviation fuel from the plant.

It 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 plant in Georgia is due to begin construction this year. It will convert sustainable ethanol (a chemical compound widely blended with petrol to reduce its carbon intensity) into sustainable aviation fuel using a patented chemical process.

The fuel produced at the plant will deliver a reduction of more than 70 per cent 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.

Commercialisation of AtJ has been years in the making, starting with the partnership between LanzaTech (which launched LanzaJet in June 2020) and the U.S 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 in the next 20 years.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO, said: “Despite the crisis in global aviation, it is vital for our future that we continue to address climate change and we remain focused on playing our part to reduce the impact we have on the planet. For the last 100 years we have connected Britain with the world and the world with Britain, and to ensure our success for the next 100, we must do this sustainably.

“Progressing the development and commercial deployment of sustainable aviation fuel is crucial to decarbonising the aviation industry and this partnership with LanzaJet shows the progress British Airways is making as we continue on our journey to net zero.

“Following the successful start-up of the Georgia plant, we hope to then deploy the technology and SAF production capacity in the UK. The UK has the experience and resources needed to become a global leader in the deployment of such sustainable aviation fuel production facilities, and we need Government support to drive decarbonisation and accelerate the realisation of this vision.”

Jimmy Samartzis, LanzaJet CEO, said: “Our world is at a crossroads on climate change and our industry is at inflection point, prepared to accelerate the energy transition that is needed. We are delighted to welcome British Airways to the LanzaJet family.

“Low-cost, sustainable fuel options are critical for the future of the aviation sector and the LanzaJet process offers the most flexible feedstock solution at scale, recycling wastes and residues into SAF that allows us to keep fossil jet fuel in the ground.

“British Airways has long been a champion of waste to fuels pathways especially with the UK Government. With the right support for waste-based fuels, the UK would be an ideal location for commercial scale LanzaJet plants. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with BA and the UK Government in making this a reality, and to continuing our support of bringing the Prime Minister’s Jet Zero vision to life.” 

British Airways has a clear 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 decarbonisation of the aviation sector.

It’s hoped that some or all of these plants will be built in the UK subject to improved Government policy support for waste-based sustainable aviation fuels.

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. 

About the partnership

The LanzaJet partnership is a collaboration between British Airways and Hangar 51, International Airlines Group’s (IAG) industry leading accelerator programme.

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 named 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 €20m in grant funding from the EU H2020 programme, resulting from a proposal supported by British Airways’ parent company, IAG.

More details of British Airways’ sustainability strategy can be found here.

More information on British Airways’ partnership with Velocys can be found here.

British Airways recently teamed up with ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, in a project to explore how hydrogen-powered aircraft can play a leading role in the future of sustainable flying. More information can be found here.

British Airways recently retired its final 747 aircraft, four years earlier than originally planned. The fleet of aircraft are being replaced by more modern models such as the A350 and 787 which are between 25 – 40% more fuel efficient. An update on the retirement of the airline’s 747 fleet can be found here.

About LanzaJet

Launched in June 2020, by carbon recycling company, LanzaTech; LanzaJet, Inc., will produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for a sector requiring climate friendly fuel options as it starts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

With its approach to commercialization of SAF, LanzaJet is creating regional jobs while enabling global decarbonization of the aviation sector.

The LanzaJet process can use any source of sustainable ethanol for jet fuel production, including, but not limited to, ethanol made from recycled pollution, the core application of LanzaTech’s carbon recycling platform.

Commercialization of this process, called Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ) has been years in the making, starting with the partnership between LanzaTech and the U.S Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL developed a unique catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) which LanzaTech took from the laboratory to pilot scale.

Investors include Suncor Energy Inc and Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Canada’s leading integrated energy company, Suncor Energy Inc., has operations in oil sands, offshore oil and gas, renewable electricity, petroleum refining and refined product marketing under the Petro-Canada brand.

Suncor owns and operates Canada’s largest ethanol production facility and since the early 2000’s has been working to responsibly develop petroleum resources, grow a renewable energy portfolio and advance the transition to a low-carbon future. Suncor’s common shares (symbol: SU) are listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.

Mitsui & Co., Ltd (8031: JP) is a global trading and investment company with a diversified business portfolio that spans approximately 65 countries. Mitsui has built a strong and diverse core business portfolio covering the Mineral and Metal Resources, Energy, Machinery and Infrastructure, and Chemicals industries.

Mitsui has diversified beyond its core profit pillars to create multifaceted value in new areas, including innovative Energy Solutions. This strategy aims to derive growth opportunities by harnessing some of the world’s main mega-trends: sustainability, health & wellness, digitalization and the growing power of the consumer.

Initial offtake agreements are in place with All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Suncor Energy Inc.

Further information is available at

www.lanzajet.com

www.suncor.com

www.mitsui.com

About LanzaTech

Carbon recycling company, LanzaTech is a global leader in gas fermentation, making sustainable fuels and chemicals via biological conversion of waste carbon emissions, including industrial off-gases; syngas generated from any biomass resource (e.g. municipal solid waste), organic industrial waste, agricultural waste); and reformed biogas.

LanzaTech’s expertise in fermentation scale up, reactor design, machine learning and synthetic biology has enabled the company to commercialise its recycling process and demonstrate production of over 100 different chemicals.

With global investors and partners, LanzaTech has a pipeline of commercial projects around the world and is working across the supply chain to provide novel circular solutions to mitigate carbon by producing consumer goods that would otherwise come from fresh fossil resources.

Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech is based in Illinois, USA and employs more than 170 people, with locations in China, India and Europe. www.lanzatech.com

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