Erin Schilling Atlanta Business Journal
British Airways partners with Georgia plant that plans to produce sustainable jet fuel
February 9, 2021
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  • British Airways is partnering with a commercial plant in Georgia that plans to produce sustainable jet fuel, according to a Feb. 9 announcement

    The Freedom Pines Fuel plant, run by fuel technology startup LanzaJet, converts sustainably sourced ethanol into “sustainable aviation fuel” using a patented chemical process. The ethanol can be made from non-edible agricultural waste, such as wheat straw and recycled pollution. 

    Production of sustainable aviation fuel is expected to start in early 2022, and British Airways will start purchasing the fuel to power flights later that year. The plant is located south of Macon in Soperton, Ga. 

    As part of the partnership with British Airways, LanzaJet will start planning and design for a similar commercial facility in the United Kingdom. 

    “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,” British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said in the announcement. 

    The Freedom Pines plant received $25 million in initial investments from Suncor Energy of Canada and Japanese trading and investment company Mitsui & Co. when plans for the project started in June 2020. Japanese airline All Nippon Airways and the U.S. Department of Energy also supported the project.  

    Those investments were used to build the biorefinery plant, which is where plant or animal materials are used to create energy and chemicals. The plant is expected to produce 10 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel per year when production starts. 

    LanzaTech, the parent company of LanzaJet, 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 sustainable fuel produced at the plant would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% compared to conventional jet fuel — the equivalent of taking 27.000 cars off the road each year, according to the announcement. 

    “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 [sustainable aviation fuel] that allows us to keep fossil jet fuel in the ground,” LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzi said in the announcement.   

    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.

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    The partnership is part of British Airways’ commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050, according to the announcement. The airline also has a partnership with fuel technology company Velocys to build a similar sustainable aviation fuel plant in the United Kingdom, which is set to start producing fuel in 2025.