LanzaTech develops low carbon jet fuel

A group of scientists led by LanzaTech are looking to develop an ethanol based jet fuel, that will significantly cut carbon emissions from aircraft.

The scientists led by LanzaTech are using microbes to create ethanol from carbon. Virgin Atlantic airways is rumoured to be interested in using the fuel on its aircraft. Founder of Virgin Atlantic said: “This is a real game-changer for aviation and could significantly reduce the industry’s reliance on oil within our lifetime.”

LanzaTech believe that there could be a 50%-70% reduction in carbon emissions from this jet fuel. Dr Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech CEO, said, “We can now truly imagine a world where a steel mill cannot only produce the steel for the components of the plane, but also recycle its gases to produce the fuel that powers the aircraft.”

The research and development company is working with China Baowu Steel Group. The Chinese firm has produced more than 450,000 litres of Lanzarol per year from one site in Shanghai, that could be converted into 225,000 litres of jet fuel – enough to fly a plane from London to Shanghai.

ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steel maker and is building an €87 million test plant to produce the fuel on a commercial basis.

Dr Jennifer Holmgren addresses the problem of carbon emissions associated with aircraft fuel use and sees the solution that LanzaTech provided as a component of a “basket of solutions” to stop depending on fossils. “My goal is that in under 10 years I want to be able to supply [four billion to nine billion litres] per year of fuel that is competitive with the long-term average price of petroleum,” says her.