Carbon capture and recycling firm LanzaTech is betting that a new site in rural Georgia for the manufacture of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will become a hub for the “special sauce” fueling low-carbon air transportation. Last week, LanzaTech and its SAF production subsidiary LanzaJet received a VIP visit from U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff to the company’s Freedom Pines Biorefinery, the R&D hub where LanzaTech is developing and scaling its carbon capture and utilization technology, and where its carbon LanzaJet SAF is to be produced, in Soperton, Georgia.
LanzaTech has already scaled and demonstrated multiple technologies at the site in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), DOE’s National Laboratories, and various industrial partners, including piloting a next-generation bioreactor, making chemicals, and converting ethanol made from recycled waste gases into sustainable aviation fuel. This “recycled carbon” SAF was used on October 2, 2018, on a world-first transatlantic flight from Orlando to London with Virgin Atlantic.
With support from the Department of Energy, the site in Soperton has become a sustainable innovation hub, leveraging local talent to support domestic energy security and meet climate goals. Today, products can be found on store shelves manufactured with these technologies, including household cleaners and laundry detergents, packaging, and soon textiles and fragrances.
“LanzaTech is exactly the kind of innovation we need to slash emissions from tough-to-decarbonize industries like aviation. This site is what President Biden envisions in every pocket of the country through the Build Back Better Agenda,” Secretary Granholm said during last week’s visit to Soperton.
As part of President Biden’s climate agenda, his Administration recently announced the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, an ambitious commitment involving several federal departments and agencies to scale up production of SAF to 3 billion gallons per year by 2030. LanzaTech and LanzaJet pledged to produce a combined 1 billion gallons of SAF in the U.S. by 2030.
The first step will be a first-of-a-kind SAF facility called Freedom Pines Fuels, in Soperton. Producing 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year from sustainably sourced ethanol from rural communities, the facility will use LanzaJet’s Alcohol to Jet (ATJ) technology, which it developed in cooperation with the DoE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). There are also plans to install solar power production to provide renewable electricity to the entire site for all operations.
The ethanol sourced will be complemented by the ethanol produced from a pre-pilot facility utilizing CO2 and renewable hydrogen being built at the site. This facility, which is also co-funded by the DOE, will demonstrate a potentially limitless supply of sustainable feedstocks for domestic SAF and diesel production right in the heart of Georgia. Argonne National Lab will be a life cycle assessment partner.
Offtake agreements have already been reached with Suncor, British Airways, Boeing, Alaska Airlines, and All Nippon Airways (ANA) to purchase and use all of the SAF and renewable diesel produced at this site.
The Soperton site currently employs over 30 people and continues to attract talent from the surrounding counties. It was recognized by the Heart of Georgia Transition Alliance in 2019, for its support in employing individuals with vocational disabilities.
With the support of the DOE, the new Freedom Pines Fuels plant, which is still in the late stages of development, will create an additional 30 permanent clean tech jobs and more than 200 construction and engineering jobs in the area.
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LanzaTech says that public and private sector partnerships such as the Freedom Pines project are essential for rapidly transitioning to a cleaner economy, in line with President Biden’s climate objectives.
“We are grateful to President Biden, Secretary Granholm and Senator Ossoff for their commitment to a carbon-smart economy and partnering with the private sector to drive innovation. LanzaTech’s Biorefinery and LanzaJet’s ATJ plant show how public private partnerships can support scale up throughout America, including rural communities like Soperton,” LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren said in connection with the recent cabinet-level visit.
“If we are to meet our goals in mitigating the climate crisis, the private sector often needs government partnerships to accelerate technology from initial R&D to full-scale production and deployment, and that is what we are doing today with Secretary Granholm.
“Soperton, Treutlen County, and rural communities like these also have a critical role to play in addressing climate change. They offer a rich supply of agricultural, and forestry wastes along with a large supply of renewable power for producing hydrogen, which are key feedstocks for LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process. With these key ingredients for our fermentation process, we will replace fossil fuels in the production of ethanol, SAF, chemicals, and other products we use in our daily lives, from right here in Middle Georgia,” Holmgren added.
LanzaJet was launched by LanzaTech in June 2020, with the express aim of developing and commercializing sustainable aviation fuel as a climate friendly fuel option for the global aviation industry in its recovery from the impacts of covid-19. Besides LanzaTech, LanzaJet’s investors include Canada’s leading integrated energy company, Suncor Energy Inc., the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, British Airways, global energy company, Shell, and leading Japanese trading and investment company, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.