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  • Southwest Airlines Co.

Southwest Airlines acquires SAFFiRE Renewables

Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Co. announced March 28 the acquisition of SAFFiRE Renewables LLC as part of the investment portfolio of its wholly owned subsidiary Southwest Airlines Renewable Ventures LLC.

 




SARV is dedicated to creating more opportunities for Southwest to obtain scalable sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

 




SAFFiRE is part of a project supported by the U.S. DOE to develop and produce scalable renewable ethanol that can be upgraded into SAF.

 




SAFFiRE expects to utilize technology developed at the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to convert corn stover, a widely available agricultural residue feedstock in the U.S., into renewable ethanol.

 




“This acquisition marks Southwest’s transition from investor to sole owner of SAFFiRE, expressing our confidence in SAFFiRE’s technology and its potential to advance our sustainability goals as well as the goals of the broader industry,” said Bob Jordan, president and CEO of Southwest Airlines. “Championing SAF is a key pillar of Southwest’s ‘Nonstop to Net Zero’ plan and our work toward a more sustainable future for air travel. We look forward to continuing our journey with SAFFiRE as part of our efforts to propel this promising technology forward.”

 




Southwest first invested in SAFFiRE during Phase I of the pilot project in 2022.

 




With this acquisition, SAFFiRE is expected to proceed with Phase II of the project by developing a pilot plant hosted at Conestoga’s Arkalon Energy ethanol facility in Liberal, Kansas.

 




Initially, this plant is intended to utilize SAFFiRE’s exclusive technology license from NREL to process 10 tons of corn stover per day for the production of renewable ethanol.

 




Then, the plan is for the ethanol to be converted into SAF by LanzaJet Inc.

 




“Renewable ethanol is an important feedstock to realizing high-volume, affordable SAF, which is a critical part of the journey to net-zero carbon emissions,” said Tom Nealon, president of SARV and CEO of SAFFiRE. “We are enthusiastic about the ethanol-to-SAF pathway and SAFFiRE’s potential ability to produce renewable ethanol at a scale that is economically viable.”

 




The acquisition of SAFFiRE comes shortly after Southwest announced an investment in LanzaJet, a technology provider and SAF producer with a patented ethanol-to-SAF technology and the world’s first ethanol-to-SAF commercial plant.

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