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Integration of CO2 direct air capture and alcohol-to-jet fuels manufacturing

By Scott Jenkins |

A feasibility study is underway for the world’s first commercial facility that integrates direct air capture (DAC) of atmospheric carbon dioxide with gas fermentation of CO2 and production of aviation fuels. LanzaTech (Chicago, Ill.; www.lanzatech.com) and Carbon Engineering (Squamish, B.C.; www.carbonengineering.com) have partnered on this first-of-its-kind facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel from atmospheric CO2.

The project, known as AtmosFUEL, seeks to integrate three technologies that have each been proven separately: Carbon Engineering’s large-scale DAC system for extracting atmospheric CO2; LanzaTech’s gas-fermentation technology for converting CO2 to ethanol; and the LanzaJet Alcohol-to-Jet process — a method for converting ethanol to jet fuel that was developed by LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Wash.; www.pnnl.gov). The project team includes British Airways (Hamonsdsworth, U.K.) and Virgin Atlantic Airlines (Crawley, U.K.).

“The study is looking at how best to couple the technologies so that we can take advantage of byproducts and energy from one part of the process and use them in others,” explains Amy Ruddock, vice president, Europe at Carbon Engineering.

Carbon Engineering is currently engineering multiple megaton-scale DAC facilities. The company uses existing industrial equipment and processes in its DAC system; for example, its air contactors are based on industrial cooling towers.

“Aviation is going to be one of the most difficult industries to decarbonize, and sustainable fuel solutions are poised to play a key role in supporting the industry’s energy transition,” Ruddock remarks.

Results of the feasibility study are expected in March 2022.

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