Project Speedbird wins millions in UK-government funding
Project Speedbird, a joint partnership between Nova Pangaea Technologies, LanzaJet and British Airways, has secured new funding totaling £9 million (USD$11.2 million) from the government’s Advanced Fuels Fund competition.
NPT, a Teesside-based cleantech company developing advanced biofuels used to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), was awarded £7.5 million (USD$9.3 million) as part of the partnership, and LanzaJet, a leading ethanol-to-SAF technology company and sustainable fuels producer, will receive £1.5 million (USD$1.9 million).
“It is hoped that the funding will help establish the U.K. as a world leader in SAF production and the decarbonization of aviation,” NPT stated.
It follows the multimillion-pound investments from International Airlines Group and British Airways earlier this year into NPT and Project Speedbird, respectively.
IAG, British Airways’ parent company, is also a founding investor and shareholder of LanzaJet dating back to 2021.
The SAF will be developed using a combination of NPT’s innovative technology, which converts agricultural waste and wood residue feedstocks into second-generation biofuels such as ethanol, and LanzaJet’s proprietary technology that converts ethanol into SAF.
The NPT ethanol will be initially processed into SAF using LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) plant in Georgia (U.S.)—the first of its kind in the world—prior to Project Speedbird’s own larger ATJ facility, planned to be built in the U.K. by 2027.
British Airways is intending to purchase all the SAF produced through Project Speedbird to help power some of its flights.
Project Speedbird will produce 102 million liters (27 million gallons) of SAF per year, which will reduce CO2 emissions on a net-lifecycle basis by 230,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of approximately 26,000 British Airways domestic flights.
Project Speedbird will produce SAF at full capacity by 2028, supporting progress towards the U.K.’s SAF mandate, which will require at least 10 percent of jet fuel used by airlines to be made from sustainable feedstocks by 2030.
“Nova Pangaea Technologies is delighted to have secured this multimillion-pound investment,” said NPT CEO Sarah Ellerby. “With support from the government, and in partnership with British Airways and LanzaJet, we can now accelerate our next phase of development and the commercialization of our technology, to help take the U.K. one step closer to becoming a global leader in SAF. Our first commercial-scale production facility will be the first of its kind in the U.K. and will use wood residues and nonfood-derived agricultural waste as its feedstocks. Our partnership, Project Speedbird, will play a transformational role in decarbonizing the aviation sector, as well as providing local employment opportunities in the North East.”
Carrie Harris, director of sustainability at British Airways, said, “Sustainable aviation fuel will play a critical role in meeting our net-zero targets and is currently the only realistic low-carbon solution for long-haul flights, so it is vital that we continue to invest and develop SAF technology in order to create enough supply. We welcome the government’s investment and continued support in Project Speedbird, which represents landmark new technology for U.K. SAF supply. The U.K. has the potential to become a leader in the production of SAF, and this pioneering project is one step closer to this becoming a reality and a big moment for British Airways and U.K. SAF production more generally.”
LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis added, “The aviation industry has set ambitious and necessary targets to address the urgency of climate change, and this next generation of sustainable aviation fuels will be critical to meeting the industry’s goals. Project Speedbird is a tremendous example of what it takes to scale the industry and meet this moment. Government support like this is critical in facilitating that growth and we’re thrilled to be working with exceptional partners like Nova Pangaea Technologies and British Airways—making sure these goals become reality.”