Sustainable Aviation Fuel Readies To Take Flight in Australia

March 31, 2023
Jet Zero Australia partners with LanzaJet to deploy Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) technology with funding and support by Qantas Group, Airbus and Queensland Government.
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LanzaJet, a leading sustainable fuels technology company and sustainable fuels producer,  is collaborating with Jet Zero Australia to start project development to progress towards the deployment of its leading LanzaJet Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) technology for a sustainable aviation fuel production plant in Queensland. The plant, which could be Australia's first ATJ sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facility, is supported by the Queensland Government, Qantas, and Airbus as part of the Australian SAF Partnership.

SAF has been identified by airlines, governments, and energy leaders as the clearest and most immediate solution to decarbonizing aviation, which amounts to approximately 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, with Australia being the second-biggest emitter of carbon per capita on domestic air travel. LanzaJet's leading and proprietary technology, which has been developed and scaled for over a decade, produces drop-in, low-carbon intensity sustainable aviation fuel from ethanol for airlines to utilize without any aircraft or aviation infrastructure modifications.

"As exciting as it is for LanzaJet to deploy its alcohol-to-jet technology to decarbonize aviation in Australia, it is equally gratifying to know its impact in developing the domestic agricultural industry, providing a path for energy security, and enhancing the country's national security posture and greater fuel independence," said Jimmy Samartzis, CEO of LanzaJet. "We have enjoyed the privilege of partnering with public and private sector leaders around the world to fight climate change and enable the global energy transition, and this is an important step forward in Australia. All parties involved in Jet Zero Australia and the Australian SAF Partnership, from global aviation leaders in Qantas Group and Airbus to the Queensland Government are serious in their commitment to scaling SAF production at the urgency our planet needs. LanzaJet looks forward to seeing the impact this project has on Australia's domestic biofuels industry as well as the larger global impact."

The SAF produced in Queensland will grow the supply for the Australian domestic market, including the nation's flag carrier, Qantas Group, which has committed to using 10% SAF in its overall fuel consumption by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Qantas is currently using SAF sourced overseas to power commercial flights out of London and expects to add San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2025.

"This is a first but significant step towards turning agricultural and sugarcane byproducts into aviation fuel to power flights around Australia," said Andrew Parker, Chief Sustainability Officer for Qantas Group. "SAF is a drop-in solution that we can use with current technologies and it's critical to the decarbonization of the aviation industry."

As part of their US$200 million investment in Australian SAF development, Qantas Group and Airbus will jointly invest a total of AUD$2 million in early-stage project capital, with the Queensland Government and additional private investment from Australian and international institutions supporting the total capital raise of AUD$6 million. The project's partners will conduct a feasibility study and early-stage project development in Queensland.

"Ensuring a sustainable future for our industry is a priority for Airbus, working with partners across the world and from all sectors," said Julie Kitcher, Airbus Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability. "There is a growing positive momentum around SAF, and it is now time to move from commitments to concrete actions. The selection of the first investment under our joint partnership with Qantas is an example of such action, with the potential to deliver SAF locally in Australia and to be a model for other locations around the world."

This plant will jumpstart the country's commitment to clean aviation and ensure the entire process of SAF production takes place within Australia, from feedstock sourcing to fuel production. Currently, Australia exports large volumes of SAF feedstock to produce biofuels in other countries.

Ed Mason, CEO of JetZero stated, "We are excited to have strong investment support and to have executed a Heads of Agreement between Qantas and LanzaJet to complete feasibility studies to build Australia's first Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) SAF plant. LanzaJet is undoubtably one of the world leaders in commercializing ATJ SAF technology with mechanical completion on their Freedom Pines Project in Georgia, USA, later this year, and we are excited to work with them to help Australian businesses and government drive real reductions in aviation emissions."

The Queensland project is projected to be the country's first sustainable aviation fuels plant. Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said this project would be a game-changer for Queensland, and the state's economic future. "With our rich supply of feedstock, Queensland is in the perfect position to capitalize on the global shift to green jet fuels and become the leader of a local SAF industry," Miles said. "It's exciting to think Queensland could be producing the millions of litres of SAF needed to power flights across Australia and around the globe, creating more regional jobs in the process. "This is another signal to the world that Queensland is ready for take-off as a clean energy powerhouse."

Construction on the Queensland plant is expected to begin in 2024. Once operational, the plant will produce up to 100 million litres of SAF annually from agricultural by-products such as sugarcane.