Dyana Bagby Atlanta Business Journal
Biotech startup plans to build renewable jet fuel plant in Georgia
June 4, 2020
  • Share
  • A biotech startup that has developed a process to recycle pollution into ethanol is set to build a new plant in Georgia where it plans to produce renewable jet fuel.

    Illinois-based LanzaTech announced this week it has launched a new company, LanzaJet, with $15 million from Suncor Energy of Canada and $10 million from Japanese trading and investment company Mitsui & Co. Ltd. The funding will be used to construct a demonstration biorefinery plant in Soperton, Ga. A biorefinery is where plant or animal materials are used to create energy and chemicals. The Georgia biorefinery would produce 10 million gallons per year of “sustainable aviation fuel” and renewable diesel starting from sustainable ethanol sources, according to a press release. Production is expected to start in early 2022.

    The $25 million initial investment is coupled with backing from All Nippon Airways, Japan’s largest airline, and a previously awarded grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a biorefinery plant at LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines site in Soperton.

    LanzaTech has created a process that uses naturally occurring bacteria to eat pollution to create energy sources, similar to how a brewer uses yeast and sugar to make alcohol, according to Built In Chicago. The process could help a steel mill recycle 120,000 tons of carbon a year, which would be the equivalent of removing 100,000 cars from the road, according to LanzaTech officials.

    LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines facility is the former Range Fuels plant that closed nearly a decade ago. Range Fuels was a biorefinery that received $90 million in federal and state grants and loan guarantees before the plant went into foreclosure without ever having produced ethanol made from wood chips, as promised, according to the Macon Telegraph.

    In addition to its equity investment, Suncor has contracted to take a significant portion of what is called sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel produced at the facility to provide its jet fuel and customers with sustainable energy solutions.

    “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,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, in the press release. “Suncor, Mitsui and ANA are stepping up to show that achieving meaningful scale will require new technologies, new business models and new approaches.”