World’s first sustainable jet fuel factory opens in rural Georgia

The world’s first factory using ethanol to manufacture lower-polluting jet fuel has opened in the United States, prompting Iowa corn growers and biofuel producers to accelerate decarbonization efforts.

LanzaJet Inc., located in Illinois, formally debuted its $200 million facility in rural Georgia on Wednesday at an event attended by investors such as Suncor Energy Inc. and IAG SA’s British Airways, as well as US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and local politicians.

LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis stated in an interview that the factory, which got US government funding, intends to use biofuel manufactured from both traditional raw materials, like as American-grown corn, and modern technologies.

The facility, located in Soperton, Georgia, will manufacture 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel annually. US President Joe Biden has asked for at least 3 billion gallons of total SAF production per year by 2030.

IAG invested in LanzaJet in 2021 and has stated that it intends to introduce the technology to the UK. The UK government has set a target of five sustainable aviation fuel facilities under construction by 2025.

“The LanzaJet ethanol-to-jet fuel plant in the US is a demonstration of how government support and investment in green technologies can help make aviation more sustainable,” Luis Gallego, CEO of IAG, said in a statement

The opening prompted Iowa groups to warn that farmers and ethanol producers in the nation’s leading corn-producing state risk missing out on a big profit opportunity in the burgeoning market for sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF.

“No Iowa ethanol plant currently has a carbon intensity score low enough to qualify as an ingredient to make SAF,” according to a statement from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Corn Promotion Board. Brazil, which mostly produces ethanol from sugarcane, produces more than 7 billion gallons of ethanol with a carbon score that qualifies for SAF production, according to the groups.

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