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  • Chidozie Uzoezie

BA Partners with LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea to Produce SAF


British Airways, LanzaJet, and Nova Pangaea Technologies have signed an agreement that will accelerate their ground-breaking Project Speedbird initiative to develop cost-effective sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for commercial use in the UK. 


As part of the agreement, British Airways’ parent company IAG, 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. This work is now complete and so the next stage of development can begin. Once in operation, it would be the UK’s first SAF facility utilising agricultural and wood waste taken from sustainable sources.


Project Speedbird has now 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.


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. This is 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 leading-edge 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, the first of its kind in the world, then converts the bioethanol to produce SAF and renewable diesel.


Project Speedbird would provide significant skilled employment with the generation of hundreds of jobs and supply chain opportunities in the North East of England and help spread the benefits of investment in green technologies across the UK. It would also bolster the UK’s energy security as the facility would boost domestic production.

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