Thursday, December 1, 2022

Bill Gates-backed startup to build world’s first alcohol-to-jet SAF plant

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Bill Gates founded Breakthrough Energy has announced that its first Catalyst project funding – in the form of a $50 million grant – will go to LanzaJet for the world’s first alcohol-to-jet sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant in Soperton, GA.

Breakthrough Energy Catalyst is a unique program that brings together corporate and philanthropic organizations to accelerate the deployment of essential technologies by funding key first-of-a-kind commercial-scale projects.

LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels project is the firm’s first commercial-scale SAF plant. It will be the first in the world to produce Alcohol-to-Jet SAF, which will lower emissions by at least 70% compared to fossil jet fuel. The project is set to be operational in 2023.

Once fully operational, this plant will play a critical role in scaling SAF production and bringing sustainable fuels that are less expensive to the market. The plant is expected to produce nine million gallons of SAF and one million gallons of renewable diesel annually.

This is about twice the amount of current SAF production in the U.S. Construction of the plant will enable the significant scale-up of LanzaJet’s technology within the U.S. and globally after the plant is built. Other projects are already in the planning phase in North America, Europe, and Asia that, together, would produce more than one billion gallons of SAF every year.

First-of-a-kind projects for emerging technologies often struggle to access low-cost capital because they have high green premiums and often face unforeseen challenges and costs, especially in the current economic climate. Catalyst funding can reduce the risk for follow-on investments and accelerate the deployment of clean technologies by giving money to these early commercial facilities.

In this case, Freedom Pines Fuels’ Catalyst grant filled a funding gap and will enable the plant to maintain its current development timeline. The grant will also spur further SAF innovation by helping create a new market for scalable, low-carbon ethanol from sustainable sources by setting the expectation that the plant will transition to second-generation ethanol, including from waste-based feedstocks, by its fifth year.

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