November 28, 2020

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Suncor and Mitsui invest in LanzaJet to produce sustainable aviation fuel

Suncor and Mitsui invest in LanzaJet to produce sustainable aviation fuel
Photo courtesy of Lanzatech

Canada’s leading integrated energy company Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and Japan’s Mitsui & Co., (8031: JP), one of the largest global trading and investment companies, are investing USD15 million and USD10 million, respectively, to establish LanzaJet, a new company that will produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Jimmy Samartzis, currently a director on the Board for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has been named LanzaJet CEO.

The funding will be used to build a demonstration plant that will produce 10 million gallons per year of SAF and renewable diesel starting from sustainable ethanol sources.  Production is expected to start in early 2022.  This initial investment coupled with participation from All Nippon Airways (ANA) will complement the existing USD14 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, enabling the construction of an integrated biorefinery at LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines site in Soperton, Georgia, U.S.A.

“The launch of LanzaJet marks an historic milestone in the clean energy transition that is underway globally. I’ve been part of many renewable energy and sustainability firsts over the last decade, and this one is the most exciting,” said Samartzis. “The commercialization of LanzaJet – built on the shoulders of LanzaTech, Suncor, Mitsui, ANA and with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy – gives our world, and aviation in particular, an important solution in shaping a cleaner future.”  

The LanzaJet process can use any source of sustainable ethanol for jet fuel production, including, but not limited to, ethanol made from recycled pollution, the core application of LanzaTech’s carbon recycling platform. Commercialization of this process, called Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ) has been years in the making, starting with the partnership between LanzaTech and the U.S Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL developed a unique catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) which LanzaTech took from the laboratory to pilot scale. Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech’s headquarters has moved to Illinois, U.S.A., with more than 170 people in China, India and Europe.

In addition to its equity investment, Suncor has contracted to take a significant portion of the SAF and renewable diesel produced at the facility to provide its jet fuel and distillate customers with sustainable energy solutions.

Suncor and Mitsui plan to invest further in the construction of commercial production facilities after the demonstration meets all its technical and economic targets. This novel phased investment approach will see the initial investment followed by a capital call once all the demonstration milestones have been met. 

“Suncor is excited to join LanzaTech, Mitsui and ANA in helping LanzaJet take off,” said Mark Little, president and CEO of Suncor. “We believe this technology will provide a solid foundation for the commercial production of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel.  These products are very complementary to our existing product mix and we see growth potential in both North American and international markets.  Suncor is committed to both a low carbon future for our own business and to helping our customers, including in the space of commercial aviation, realize their own vision of a sustainable future.”

“We are pleased to launch LanzaJet along with excellent partners LanzaTech, Suncor and ANA,” Toru Matsui, managing officer, COO of Mitsui said. “This partnership demonstrates our continuing commitment to improving the sustainability of the aviation industry and supports our ambition to be the first in Japan to produce SAF on a commercial scale. The SAF produced by LanzaJet will support the development of a global SAF supply chain, which has the potential to significantly reduce emissions from aviation and help to create a low carbon society.”

“ANA is thrilled to work alongside LanzaTech, Mitsui and Suncor on this new venture,” said Akihiko Miura, executive vice president of ANA. “We believe that this partnership is a great step forward for carbon-neutral growth initiatives. ANA is happy to share in this innovative endeavor and to be a part of a carbon-free future in the aviation industry.”

“Achieving our global climate goals requires scaling new, transformative technologies rapidly. This requires new methods of financing that enable scaling from lab to pilot to demo to commercial without stopping after each step to raise more cash,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech.  “Suncor, Mitsui and ANA are stepping up to show that achieving meaningful scale will require new technologies, new business models and new approaches. I am delighted to see LanzaJet take off and to see Jimmy Samartzis lead the team as it brings this sustainable solution to market.”

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