LanzaJet Opens World’s First Ethanol-to-SAF Facility
January 24, 2024
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  • LanzaJet inaugurated the world’s first ethanol-to-sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facility, Freedom Pines Fuels, in Soperton, Georgia. However, U.S. corn farmers face challenges entering the SAF market due to the carbon intensity of American ethanol.

    USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack gave remarks at the LanzaJet grand opening, stressing the opportunity ethanol-to-SAF production can create for American farmers. “This is a new industry that will use what you grow and convert it into something far more valuable,” he said. Other government officials attending the event included U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, Treulin County Commissioner Phil Jennings and Soperton Mayor John Koon.

    The opening of Freedom Pines Fuels also featured the participation of LanzaJet shareholders and investors, including International Airlines Group (IAG), LanzaTech, Mitsui & Co, Shell, Suncor Energy, Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, Breakthrough Energy, British Airways, and All Nippon Airways (ANA).

    The company’s ethanol-to-SAF technology was originally developed in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Lab in 2010, and its first commercial flights were completed in 2018 and 2019 with Virgin Atlantic and All Nippon Airways (ANA), respectively.

    Only one U.S. plant with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) produces SAF-friendly ethanol, while Brazil leads in SAF-compatible ethanol production.

    A recent study (link) suggests Midwest corn farmers could benefit significantly from a 35-billion-gallon SAF market, but access remains a key issue. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association released a study it commissioned from Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS), an economic research and development firm, to discover how a 35-billion-gallon SAF market would impact the Midwest economy. The study concluded Midwest corn farmers stand to gain $441 million in additional income from such a market, if given the opportunity to access it. “For a 1,000-acre farm with 50/50 corn and soybeans and trendline national yields, this would mean $11,760 more income in 2050,” according to the study.