(03/11/22) British Airways, LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea Technologies have signed an agreement to accelerate their Project Speedbird initiative to develop cost-effective sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for commercial use in the UK.
As part of the agreement, IAG, British Airways’ parent company, is investing in the project to support the next phase of development work that will help decarbonise the aviation industry.
Project Speedbird was initially launched by the three companies in 2021 and was granted nearly £500,000 by the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Green Fuels, Green Skies competition to fund an initial feasibility study for the early-stage development of the project.
IAG to support Project Speedbird’s work to accelerate SAF production in UK
As that work is now complete, Project Speedbird has applied for the DfT’s Advanced Fuels Fund grant for additional funding, which will be key to the project’s continued development whilst the DfT seeks to roll out its recently announced Jet Zero strategy that includes implementing a SAF mandate to come into force in 2025, which will require at least 10% of UK jet fuel to be SAF by 2030.
“SAF is in high demand but in short supply across the globe and so it is essential that we scale up its production as quickly as possible,” said Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability at British Airways. “With further investment and continued government support, Speedbird will be a key and pioneering project in the production of SAF in the UK. The biochar carbon removal opportunities are another important aspect of this impressive innovative project that can contribute to our net zero action.”
Project Speedbird would transform agricultural and wood waste taken from sustainable sources into 102 million litres of SAF per year. Construction could begin as early as 2023 and the facility, which is planned to be built in North East England, is expected to be producing SAF by 2026.
British Airways intends to offtake all SAF produced through Project Speedbird to help power some of its flights. The SAF produced would reduce CO2 emissions, on a net lifecycle basis, by 230,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent emissions of approximately 26,000 British Airways domestic flights.
Overall, Project Speedbird has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 770,000 tonnes a year as the combined processes also produce renewable diesel and a material called biochar – a carbon-rich charcoal-like material left over after the agricultural and wood wastes have been processed. Biochar is a natural carbon removal method.
The SAF will be developed using a combination of technologies based on Nova Pangaea’s REFNOVA process of converting agricultural and wood waste into bioethanol and biochar. LanzaJet’s proprietary and patented alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) technology then converts the bioethanol to produce SAF and renewable diesel.
“This project will deliver the first end-to-end, sustainable value chain from agricultural and wood waste to SAF in the UK. It will undoubtedly play a very important role in the growing momentum towards decarbonising our aviation sector. The support from British Airways is a vote of huge confidence in our technology and will accelerate its commercialisation,” said Sarah Ellerby, CEO, Nova Pangaea Technologies. “Our aim is to help the UK become a global leader in the end-to-end SAF market, with consequent benefits to employment and business activity.”