LONDON, United Kingdom and SQUAMISH, British Columbia (July 26, 2021): Biotechnology company LanzaTech UK, and cleantech company Carbon Engineering (CE), have partnered on a first-of-a-kind project to create sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) out of 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 litres of SAF each year.
The proposed facility is targeted to be operational by the end of the decade and will demonstrate how this clean infrastructure can be rolled out across the UK and elsewhere to deliver significant aviation emission reductions, while creating thousands of jobs and cascading economic benefits. 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 in government funding to support plant development.
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 LanzaJetTM Alcohol-To-Jet technology, developed by LanzaTech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The fuel will undergo certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Materials, globally recognised 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 per cent 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 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, and 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 over 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 critical climate technologies, emphasising the need for cross-industry collaboration and a diversity of solutions in global decarbonisation efforts.
Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech said, “Using Direct Air Capture to make SAF presents an opportunity for unprecedented scale, a key factor when the greatest challenge we face as an industry is getting the volumes of fuel we need into planes as soon as possible. We applaud the UK Government’s continued leadership role in creating opportunities for bringing recycled carbon into the supply chain to enable achieving Net Zero.”
Amy Ruddock, VP Europe, CE said, “Aviation is going to be one of the most difficult industries to decarbonise, and sustainable fuel solutions are poised to play a key role in supporting the industry’s energy transition. We’re pleased to see the UK Government investing in critical SAF solutions and are grateful for this funding support. These types of first-of-a-kind facilities will position the UK as a world leader in advanced low carbon jet fuel breakthroughs and will deliver significant emissions reductions and rippling economic benefits.”
Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented, “We are delighted that the atmosFUEL project has been recognised by the GFGS programme and very much look forward to working with our sustainable aviation fuels partners LanzaTech and Carbon Engineering on this programme. The involvement of two leading UK airlines as partners in this project reflects how important it is to support such innovation and the role airlines play in developing a UK-based sustainable aviation fuels production capability. We very much look forward to working with our partners over the coming months.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways Chairman and CEO, said: “We’re determined to transform the sustainability of our industry and this proposed funding from the Government’s Green Fuels, Green Skies competition is critical in helping us to show the feasibility of building sustainable aviation fuel plants. These plants would be a game-changer for our industry, not only delivering sustainable aviation fuel, but also creating many hundreds of highly skilled jobs while increasing economic growth around the UK. Our parent company, IAG, was the first European airline group to commit to powering 10 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030 – purchasing one million tonnes of SAF each year, equivalent to taking a million cars off Europe’s roads every year. We look forward to pushing forward with this project, which is one of many we’re working on as we head towards our target to decarbonise and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
UK Government press release: Green Fuels, Green Skies (GFGS) competition: shortlisted proposals
# # #
LanzaTech harnesses the power of biology and big data to create climate-safe materials and fuels.
With expertise in Synthetic biology, bioinformatics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning coupled with engineering, LanzaTech has created a platform that converts waste carbon into new everyday products that would otherwise come from virgin fossil resources. LanzaTech’s first commercial scale gas fermentation plant has produced over 20M gallons of ethanol which is the equivalent of keeping over 120,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Additional plants are under construction globally. LanzaTech is based in Illinois, USA and employs more than 200 people.
Further information is available at www.lanzatech.com.
About Carbon Engineering:
Founded in 2009, Carbon Engineering (CE) is a Canadian-based clean energy company. CE is focused on the global deployment of megaton-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere so it can be permanently stored deep underground or used to produce clean, affordable transportation fuels. From a pilot plant in British Columbia, CE has been capturing CO2 from the atmosphere since 2015 and converting it into fuels since 2017.
Today, with its partner, 1PointFive, CE is engineering a large-scale, commercial DAC facility in the US that will capture one million tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to the work of 40 million trees. In the UK, with UK partner Storegga, it has also begun engineering and design of a facility that will permanently remove between 500,000 and one million tonnes of CO2 each year. More information can be found at carbonengineering.com.
About Virgin Atlantic:
Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson in 1984, with innovation and amazing customer service at its core. In 2020, Virgin Atlantic was voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX for the fourth year running in the Official Airline Ratings. Headquartered in London, it employs 5,900 people worldwide, flying customers to 27 destinations across four continents. Alongside shareholder and Joint Venture partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic operates a leading transatlantic network, with onward connections to over 200 cities around the world. On 3 February 2020, Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic launched an expanded Joint Venture, offering a comprehensive route network, convenient flight schedules, competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers.
Sustainability remains central to the airline and since September 2019, Virgin Atlantic has welcomed seven brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, helping to transform the fleet into one of the youngest, quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky. By 2022, the airline will operate a streamlined fleet of 37 twin engine aircraft following the retirement of its B747-400s and A340-600s, making its simplified fleet 10% more efficient than before the Covid-19 crisis impacted.
For more information visit www.virginatlantic.com, www.virginholidays.co.uk or via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @virginatlantic @virginholidays. For the latest information on the measures we are taking to ensure our customers fly safe and well with Virgin Atlantic, please visit: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/youre-in-safe-hands.html.
About British Airways:
British Airways is a premium global airline and the UK’s flag carrier and has been flying for more than 100 years. The airline connects Britain with the world and the world with Britain, putting customers and sustainability at the heart of its operations and continues to provide excellent service in all aspects of its business.