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British Airways Partners SAF Project Gets £9m UK Gov’t Funding

Project Speedbird, a partnership between Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT), LanzaJet, and British Airways (BA), has received £9 million in funding from the UK Government’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) competition. This funding will support Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production. Critically, it will position the UK as a global leader in SAF, helping to advance the decarbonization of aviation.

Project Speedbird, a partnership between Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT), LanzaJet, and British Airways (BA), has received £9 million in funding from the UK Government's Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) competition. [Image: Nova Pangaea Technologies factory]
Nova Pangaea Technologies factory. Source: British Airways
  • Project Speedbird – a partnership between Nova Pangaea Technologies, LanzaJet, and British Airways – has secured £9 million from the Government’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) competition.
  • The new funding stream follows multi-million-pound investments by International Airlines Group and British Airways in the summer.
  • The project will produce 102 million liters of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) annually. This production reduces CO2 emissions by 230,000 tonnes per year. British Airways SAF purchase covers about 26,000 British Airways domestic flights*
  • The new funding will help make the UK a world leader in SAF production.

Project Speedbird: UK £9 Million Funding for Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Within the partnership, NPT, a cleantech company based in Teesside, will get £7.5 million. LanzaJet, an ethanol to SAF technology company and sustainable fuels producer, will receive £1.5 million. This funding follows the earlier investments by International Airlines Group (IAG) and British Airways into NPT and Project Speedbird. IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has been a founding investor and shareholder of LanzaJet since 2021.

Project Speedbird combines NPT’s technology to convert agricultural waste and wood residue into second-generation biofuels like ethanol with LanzaJet’s ethanol-to-SAF technology. Initially, LanzaJet will convert the NPT ethanol into SAF at LanzaJet’s Alcohol to Jet (ATJ) plant in Georgia, USA. However, with Project Speedbird, LanzaJet will construct its larger ATJ facility in the UK by 2027. British Airways has committed to buying all the SAF produced through Project Speedbird to power some of its flights.

Once fully running, Project Speedbird will produce 102 million liters of SAF per year. This production level will reduce about 230,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. That covers about 26,000 of the domestic flights British Airways flies.*

Project Speedbird aligns with the UK’s SAF mandate. This requires a minimum of 10% of jet fuel used by airlines to come from sustainable sources by 2030. Project Speedbird will achieve full production capacity by 2028 to advance the UK’s progress in meeting this goal.

First-of-its-Kind Commercial-Scale Production Facility

Sarah Ellerby, Chief Executive of Nova Pangaea Technologies, said:

“Nova Pangaea Technologies is 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 commercialization 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 decarbonizing the aviation sector, as well as providing local employment opportunities in the North East.”

The UK Could Lead SAF Production

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.”

Aviation Industry’s Ambitious Sustainability Targets

Jimmy Samartzis, Chief Executive Officer 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. We’re thrilled to be working with exceptional partners like Nova Pangaea Technologies and British Airways – making sure these goals become reality.”

*Based on the calculated average UK domestic route from 2019 data.

SAF Production in the UK: Meeting the Demands of Decarbonization

NPT (Nova Pangaea Technologies) is among the UK companies gearing up to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This alternative fuel is essential in decarbonizing the aviation industry. By 2030, the UK requires at least 10% of jet fuel to come from sustainable feedstocks through its SAF mandate. This amounts to 1.2 million tonnes of fuel (or 1.5 billion liters). However, the total global production of SAF in 2022 is at most 450 million liters. Producers will need to triple production to meet the UK’s mandate. Nova Pangaea Technologies’ facility in Teesside will play a vital role in meeting this demand.

Second-Generation Biofuels: A Sustainable Solution

Unlike traditional ethanol production, NPT’s REFNOVA process focuses on creating second-generation biofuels using residual and waste materials rather than crops. This approach ensures a more sustainable and environmentally friendly production method. NPT’s technology is adaptable to various feedstocks, mitigating supply chain risks and future-proofing second-generation ethanol production. The feedstocks include residues from sawmills and forestry operations, such as sawdust and wood trimmings. They also include agricultural waste, like wheat straw and corn stover, often left on the fields after harvests.

Nova Pangaea Technologies: Driving Sustainable Innovation

Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT) is a cleantech company and leader in the biofuels industry. Their breakthrough REFNOVA process enables the conversion of wood residues and agricultural waste into advanced biofuels and biochar. Furthermore, NPT’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production plays a crucial role in the global effort to decarbonize flight operations. With significant private investment and public funding, NPT has gained considerable traction. Their commercial-scale production site, NOVAONE, will start construction by the end of 2023. By 2025, the facility will produce fuels and generate employment. It will support aviation industry decarbonization and help the UK achieve its net-zero targets.

LanzaJet: Pioneering Sustainable Fuel Technology

LanzaJet is a leading sustainable fuels technology company dedicated to accelerating the transition to clean energy. The company provides and produces Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). LanzaJet uses its patented LanzaJet® Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) technology to create a pathway for future generations. They aim to deploy SAF and other clean technologies to address the climate crisis and transform the global economy. For more information, visit LanzaJet’s website at www.lanzajet.com.

British Airways SAF Purchase: A Commitment to Net Zero Carbon Emissions

British Airways is part of IAG, an airline group committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The airline’s strategy includes short-, medium–, and long-term initiatives to reach this goal. In the short term, they focus on enhancing operational efficiency and introducing fuel-efficient aircraft. They are also gradually incorporating sustainable aviation fuels derived from waste feedstocks. In the medium to longer term, British Airways continues to invest in developing and expanding sustainable aviation fuel. Additionally, the airline explores emerging technologies like zero-emission hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon capture. Find more details on British Airways’ sustainability program: BA Better World.

Project Speedbird: Partnership for Sustainable Aviation Fuel

‘Project Speedbird’ is a project by Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT) through a collaboration with British Airways and LanzaJet. It will help develop cost-effective second-generation Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the UK. Under this initiative, NPT will provide advanced biofuels that a dedicated plant can process into SAF using LanzaJet’s patented technology. The project aims to produce 82,000 tonnes of SAF annually. Critically, British Airways committed to purchasing the entire production to power a portion of their flights. The SAF produced by Project Speedbird would result in a net lifecycle CO2 emissions reduction of 230,000 tonnes per year.

The Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF): Promoting UK Advanced Fuels Projects

The UK Government wants to become a leader in zero-emission flight. It has plans to kick-start the commercialization of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). The Department for Transport (DfT) launched the Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) on July 19, 2022 to support these efforts. In all, the AFF offers £135 million in grant funding to support UK advanced fuels projects until March 31, 2025. Critically, the fund aims to support the construction of at least five commercial-scale SAF plants in the UK by 2025. This will aid the achievement of the UK’s target of 10% SAF usage by 2030. Finally, this funding initiative represents a significant step toward promoting sustainable fuel development and advancing the aviation sector’s decarbonization.

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