Project Speedbird – a joint partnership between LanzaJet, British Airways (BA), and Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT) – has secured new funding totalling £9 million from the UK government’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) competition.

LanzaJet, a leading ethanol to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) technology company and sustainable fuels producer, and NPT, a UK-based cleantech company developing advanced biofuels used to produce SAF, will receive the funding to increase global SAF production and decarbonize the aviation industry.

It follows the multi-million-pound investments from International Airlines Group (IAG) and British Airways earlier this year into NPT and Project Speedbird, respectively. IAG – British Airways’ parent company – is also a founding investor and shareholder of LanzaJet dating back to 2021.

Technological innovation

The SAF will be developed using a combination of NPT’s innovative technology, which converts agricultural waste and wood residue feedstocks into second-generation biofuels such as ethanol, and LanzaJet’s proprietary technology that converts ethanol into SAF.

The NPT ethanol will be initially processed into SAF through LanzaJet’s Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) plant in Soperton, Georgia – the first of its kind in the world – prior to Project Speedbird’s own larger ATJ facility, planned to be built in the UK by 2027. British Airways is intending to purchase all the SAF produced through Project Speedbird to help power some of its flights.

Project Speedbird will produce 27 million gallons (102 million liters) of SAF per year, which will reduce CO2 emissions, on a net lifecycle basis, by 230,000 tons per year, the equivalent of approximately 26,000 British Airways domestic flights.*

Project Speedbird will produce SAF at full capacity by 2028, supporting progress towards the UK’s SAF mandate which will require at least 10% of jet fuel used by airlines to be made from sustainable feedstocks by 2030.

Jimmy Samartzis, CEO at LanzaJet, said: “The aviation industry has set ambitious and necessary targets to address the urgency of climate change, and this next generation of sustainable aviation fuels will be critical to meeting the industry’s goals.

“Project Speedbird is a tremendous example of what it takes to scale the industry and meet this moment. Government support like this is critical in facilitating that growth and we’re thrilled to be working with exceptional partners like Nova Pangaea Technologies and British Airways – making sure these goals become reality.”

UK one step closer to becoming a global leader in SAF

Sarah Ellerby, CEO of Nova Pangaea Technologies, said: “Nova Pangaea Technologies are delighted to have secured this multi-million-pound investment. With support from the Government, and in partnership with British Airways and LanzaJet, we can now accelerate our next phase of development and the commercialisation of our technology, to help take the UK one step closer to becoming a global leader in SAF.

“Our first commercial-scale production facility will be the first of its kind in the UK, and will use wood residues and non-food derived agricultural waste as its feedstocks. Our partnership, Project Speedbird, will play a transformational role in decarbonising the aviation sector, as well as providing local employment opportunities in the North East.”

Carrie Harris, director of sustainability at British Airways, said: “Sustainable aviation fuel will play a critical role in meeting our net zero targets and is currently the only realistic low carbon solution for long-haul flights, so it is vital that we continue to invest and develop SAF technology in order to create enough supply.

“We welcome the government’s investment and continued support in Project Speedbird which represents landmark new technology for UK SAF supply. The UK has the potential to become a leader in the production of SAF, and this pioneering project is one step closer to this becoming a reality and a big moment for British Airways and UK SAF production more generally.”
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