Microsoft Invests $50 Million in Alcohol-to-Jet Fuel Biorefinery

By Bryan Jung
Bryan Jung
Bryan Jung
Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
January 14, 2022 Updated: January 14, 2022

Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund will invest $50 million in a LanzaJet facility in Georgia to produce jet fuel from ethanol next year, according to a LanzaJet press release.

The invested funds will go toward finishing the construction of the Freedom Pines Fuels Plant in Soperton, Georgia, with plans to start producing 10 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel per year from sustainable ethanol, including from waste-based feedstocks, in 2023.

LanzaJet, a Chicago-based spinoff of clean energy company LanzaTech, says that the facility is the world’s first alcohol-to-jet sustainable fuel production plant.

The renewable fuel company says its goal is to bring lower-cost sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel to the market.

LanzaJet officially spun out from LanzaTech in 2020 after major investors put money into the new energy company.

Along with making renewable jet fuel, the company is developing new technology that turns waste into chemicals that can be used to build plastics.

Oil producers and other petroleum trading companies including Suncor Energy and Shell are also funding the renewable energy plant.

Other investors include British Airways, All Nippon Airways, Japanese investment firm Mitsui & Co., and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Airlines have been facing increasing global pressure from governments and green energy advocacy groups to lower their carbon footprints.

Governments and investors are attempting to boost incentives to produce low-carbon emitting jet fuel.

A 2050 zero-net emissions growth, sustainable fuel agenda has been pushed for years by the economic pundits at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Biden administration announced last year, that it had agreed to lower aviation emissions by 20 percent by 2030 and with a goal to achieve net-zero aviation emissions by 2050.

In September, the White House set a target for the production of 3 billion gallons of SAF in the United States per year by 2030.

Biden has also pushed tax credits for SAF production as part of his “Build Back Better” plan, which has stalled due to serious opposition in Congress.

The European Union, meanwhile, is aiming to increase the amount of SAF to 63 percent of overall jet fuel production by 2050.

Many corporations like Microsoft are equally supportive of the economic directives coming out of the WEF.

Officials at Microsoft have said that it will further support the carbon negative agenda by ending its use of fossil fuels by 2030 and removing all the carbon that it has emitted to date by 2050.

Microsoft founded its Climate Innovation Fund in 2020, to invest $1 billion over the next four years to speed up the development of carbon removal technology.

The software company has been studying sustainable fuel sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells, as a way to make its cloud data centers less dependent on diesel fuel.

As part of the joint announcement with Microsoft, LanzaJet said its goal is to achieve 1 billion gallons of sustainable jet fuel production in the United States by 2030.

However, the airline industry is considered one of the hardest to decarbonize.

Renewable aviation fuel still accounted for less than 0.1 percent of the current global jet fuel demand of about 330 million tonnes in 2019.

Bryan Jung
Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.