British Airways has announced it has secured £9 million in funding for its sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) partnership dubbed Project Speedbird.

The carrier is working with Teesside-based cleantech company Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT), and leading ethanol to SAF technology firm LanzaJet, with the project set to produce 102 million litres of SAF per year by 2028.

The funding from the government’s Advanced Fuels Fund competition sees NPT being awarded £7.5 million, with LanzaJet receiving £1.5 million.

BA intends to purchase all the SAF produced through Project Speedbird, which it says will reduce CO2 emissions, on a net lifecycle basis, by 230,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of approximately 26,000 British Airways domestic flights.

The SAF will be developed using a combination of NPT’s technology (which converts agricultural waste and wood residue feedstocks into second-generation biofuels such as ethanol), and LanzaJet’s proprietary technology (which converts ethanol into SAF).

The NPT ethanol will be initially processed into SAF using LanzaJet’s Alcohol to Jet (ATJ) plant in the US, prior to Project Speedbird’s own larger ATJ facility, planned to be built in the UK by 2027.

Earlier this year BA’s parent company IAG announced an investment in Nova Pangaea Technologies, to help progress the development of the UK’s first waste-to-fuel commercial-scale production facility.

IAG invests in cleantech company Nova Pangaea Technologies

The group is also a founding investor and shareholder in LanzaJet.

In August IAG announced what they said is “the largest co-funded purchase agreement for Sustainable Aviation Fuel emissions reductions globally, where both parties are funding part of the cost of the supply”.

The deal will see the two groups purchase 14,700 tonnes of Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber refinery.

IAG and Microsoft announce joint SAF purchase

Commenting on the news 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 UK SAF supply.

“The UK 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 UK SAF production more generally.”

Earlier this year the World Travel and Tourism Council called on governments worldwide to “get serious” on incentivizing SAF, warning that there is currently a “massive gap” between demand and production.

For our recent feature on developments in sustainable aviation fuel, see:

Sustainable Aviation Fuel: In the pipeline