Tees firm part of British Airways collaboration to launch government green fuel tech

A Teesside company is part of a collaboration with British Airways shortlisted to win government funding to develop green fuel for the aviation industry.

Redcar-based cleantech company Nova Pangaea Technologies has launched a joint bid with the UK’s biggest airliner and global carbon recycling firm LanzaJet to win funding to support the early-stage development of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

A number of consortia are bidding for the funding. But if Nova Pangaea’s is successful, the SAF development would be based at the firm’s Wilton site.

The amount of waste wood processed in the UK increased by six per cent to 3.98m tonnes in 2019, according to the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA).

The Department for Transport’s Green Fuels, Green Skies competition is part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution announced in November 2020.

The collaboration, called Project Speedbird, supports the development of the UK SAF sector towards deploying innovative SAF production technologies at a commercial scale that can reduce emissions from the aviation sector.

The goal is to produce 100 million litres of sustainable fuel per year starting in 2025, to meet the large SAF supply-demand gap in the UK.

The fuel produced would power 2,000 flights from London to New York operated by an A350 aircraft.

The integrated technology platform is based on Nova Pangaea’s REFNOVA process of converting lignocellulosic feedstocks, such as waste wood and biomass, into sustainable biocarbon, biochemicals, biopolymers, and drop in for biofuels.

LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) technology will convert the ethanol to Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) and Synthetic Paraffinic Diesel (SPD) to produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel.

Leveraging the technologies from this partnership, the plant will convert wood waste to sustainable aviation fuel in the UK, recycling carbon from local UK wood waste, and helps decarbonise aviation as well as supporting the production of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK.

Nova Pangaea CEO Sarah Ellerby – pictured (above) with CFO Neil Guilder (left) and CTO Dr Neil Hindle – said: “In order to deliver the transport decarbonisation plan, we need to increase and accelerate investment in technologies that will deliver the net zero mandate.

“We want the UK to be a world leader in SAF and to do this we have to be ambitious and embrace innovation.

“We plan to deliver the first UK based end-to-end sustainable value chain from UK wood waste and residues to SAF.

“We are not only proud to partner with British Airways and LanzaJet but proud that the UK is leading the charge to decarbonise aviation.”

Sean Doyle, British Airways chairman and CEO, said: “We’re determined to transform the sustainability of our industry and this funding from the Government’s Green Fuels, Green Skies competition is critical in helping us to show the feasibility of building sustainable aviation fuel plants.

“These plants would be a game-changer for our industry, not only delivering sustainable aviation fuel but also creating many hundreds of highly skilled jobs while increasing economic growth around the UK.

“Our parent company, IAG, was the first European airline group to commit to powering 10 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030 – purchasing one million tonnes of SAF each year, the equivalent to taking a million cars off Europe’s roads each year.

“We look forward to pushing forward with this project, which is one of many we’re working on as we head towards our target to decarbonise and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

LanzaJet was launched in June 2020 by carbon recycling company LanzaTech, and aims to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for a sector requiring climate friendly fuel options as it starts to recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

Investors include LanzaTech, Canada’s leading integrated energy company Suncor Energy Inc, British Airways, Shell and leading Japanese trading and investment company, Mitsui & Co.

LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis said: “This project is vital to our mission in expanding SAF on a global basis to help it achieve net-zero.

“The conversion of wood waste to SAF in the UK helps decarbonize aviation and recycles carbon from local UK wood waste.

“At LanzaJet, we’re in a unique position with ready and scaling technology to produce lower-carbon, sustainable fuels.

“Our partnership with British Airways and Nova Pangaea provides a novel and important integrated solution for the UK.

“Together we are grateful to the Prime Minister and Department for Transport for their support in advancing the production of sustainable aviation fuel in the UK.”