Farm Progress

Iowa corn growers and biofuel producers say this is a wake-up call to move faster toward sustainable aviation fuel.

Bloomberg, Content provider

January 25, 2024

2 Min Read
Airplane refueling on runway
Getty images/aapsky

By Kim Chipman

The world’s first plant using ethanol to make lower-polluting jet fuel opened in the U.S., a development that Iowa corn growers and biofuel producers say is a wake-up call to move faster to decarbonize. 

Illinois-based LanzaJet Inc. formally unveiled its $200 million facility in rural Georgia at an event Wednesday with investors, including Suncor Energy Inc. and IAG SA’s British Airways as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and local officials. 

The plant, which received U.S. government funds, plans to use biofuel made from both traditional raw materials, including American-grown corn, as well as from advanced technologies, LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis said in an interview. Located in Soperton, Georgia, the facility will produce 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for at least 3 billion gallons of overall SAF production annually by 2030.

IAG invested in LanzaJet in 2021, and has said it plans to bring the technology to the UK. The UK government has set a target of having five sustainable aviation fuel plants in 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,” said IAG CEO Luis Gallego. 

The opening prompted Iowa groups to warn that farmers and ethanol makers in the top U.S. corn-producing state are at risk of missing out on the chance to significantly profit from the developing 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. By contrast, Brazil, which mainly makes ethanol from sugarcane, produces over 7 billion gallons of ethanol with a carbon score expected to qualify for SAF production, the groups said.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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