25 January 2022

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Microsoft’s climate fund invests $50 million to support construction of LanzaJet’s first SAF facility

LanzaJet has secured a $50 million investment from the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund to support the construction of its first alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) sustainable aviation fuel production plant in Georgia, United States. The company says work on the Freedom Pines Fuels biorefinery is progressing as planned, despite supply chain, manufacturing and labour shortage challenges, with fabrication well underway, some modules completed and final site engineering nearing completion. The plant is expected to achieve mechanical completion this year and begin producing 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year from sustainable ethanol, including from waste-based feedstocks, in 2023. Following a national production target announced at a White House meeting last September of 3 billion gallons a year by 2030, LanzaJet is aiming to contribute a third of the total, as well as build a global market for its fuels. Financial support from Microsoft’s $1 billion fund adds to other investments from LanzaTech, Suncor Energy, Mitsui & Co, Shell, British Airways and All Nippon Airways, with further funding coming from the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office.

Private sector investment and government support are crucial to enabling the scale-up of new technologies to curb carbon emissions, said LanzaJet, whose ATJ technology has been in development for more than a decade through a partnership initially between LanzaTech and the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Lab. PNNL developed a catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to ATJ synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK), which LanzaTech took from the laboratory to pilot scale. Launched in June 2020, spin-off LanzaJet is now commercially deploying the technology globally and last August it announced it would be deploying its technology across three projects in the UK.

“We know that creating the change which our world desperately needs requires perseverance, innovation and like-minded partnerships. We are thrilled to bring on Microsoft and its Climate Innovation Fund to help us build our first-of-its-kind sustainable fuels plant in Georgia,” said Jimmy Samartzis, LanzaJet CEO. “The partnership with Microsoft is more than just financing – it advances our work towards net zero fuels, it enables lower-cost sustainable fuels into the market and it supports the urgency to have real, proven technologies scale-up and deploy.

“We set a bold ambition to support the White House with a goal of 1 billion gallons of sustainable fuels by 2030. With Microsoft’s support, this first plant significantly expands the production of sustainable fuels in the US, establishes Georgia as a leader in clean tech and is the foundation for us as the first alcohol-to-jet sustainable fuels producer, as well as a blueprint for the commercial plants we’re developing globally.”

The investment was made as part of Microsoft’s efforts to achieve its 2030 goal of becoming carbon negative and advancing a net zero economy. It will also allow Microsoft to access renewable diesel for its data centres. By 2050, Microsoft has pledged to remove all the carbon it has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. As part of its 2030 carbon negative goal, Microsoft is deploying $1 billion of its capital in the Climate Innovation Fund, launched in 2020, to help accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies through equity and debt capital.

“With this investment, we support LanzaJet in creating new pathways to help companies across industries achieve net zero carbon through the use of sustainable fuels,” said the fund’s Director, Brandon Middaugh. “Decarbonising hard-to-abate industries and technologies will be essential to achieving our carbon reduction goals by 2030. We look forward to working with LanzaJet to accelerate the global development and deployment of high-quality, sustainable fuels technologies.”

Microsoft is a founding member of the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA), a group of major US corporates that have come together to drive SAF market demand and investment, with a mission to accelerate the path to net zero aviation. Microsoft recently took part in a SAF ‘book and claim’ pilot with SABA, United Airlines and standards body RSB. The IT giant has also entered into an agreement with Alaska Airlines whereby the carbon emissions from employee’s business travel between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and three US West Coast destinations are covered by purchases of SAF credits.

Photo (Boeing): All Nippon Airways is an investor in LanzaJet