A company partnered with Virgin Atlantic Ltd. has created a green jet fuel made from waste industrial gases from steel mills.
LanzaTech Inc., based in Skokie, Illinois, produced 1,500 gallons of the fuel known as Lanzanol. It’s made from ethanol created through a fermentation process. It’s estimated to be 65 percent cleaner than conventional jet fuel, according to a statement on Virgin Atlantic’s website.
“This is a real game changer for aviation and could significantly reduce the industry’s reliance on oil within our lifetime,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd. “Virgin Atlantic was the first commercial airline to test a biofuel flight and continues to be a leader in sustainable aviation.”
Aviation is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Low oil prices have largely deterred the development of alternative fuels, such as biofuels and carbon-based substitutes. Demand for cleaner fuels from airlines has dropped as the price of kerosene, which is burned in plane engines, has more than halved since June 2014.
“Decarbonization of heavy industry and aviation will be difficult, which makes converting industrial waste gases into low-carbon jet fuel a fascinating prospect,” said James Beard, climate and aviation specialist at WWF in the U.K. “All airlines should pursue the development of genuinely sustainable, low-carbon fuels that are certified to minimize indirect land use change.”
LanzaTech partnered with Virgin Atlantic in 2011 and will also work with Boeing Co., according to the statement. The product requires testing before it can be approved for its first use in a commercial plane.
The green fuel was produced at a demonstration facility at one of Chinese steelmaker Shougang Group’s mills, working in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Lab in the U.S. The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and HSBC Holdings Plc.
LanzaTech plans to build a commercial green jet fuel plant to supply Virgin Atlantic and other airlines and is considering to build it in the U.K.