Bill Gates to invest $50 million to build clean jet fuel plant


Bill Gates

An investment fund by Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently gave $50 million to a startup. The investment is to build a technology that turns alcohol into Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The startup, LanzaJet, confirmed it has received funding from Gates’ Breakthrough Energy fund. It will use the fund to build its first large factory in Soperton, Georgia. Currently, airlines are exploring the use of sustainable aviation fuels to make the industry greener. However, such fuels are not so popular because of the relatively low production volumes.

Bill Gates farmland

The Soperton plant will also use the name “Freedom Pine Fuel Plant”. It will officially begin production in 2023. When operating in full, LanzaJet claims the plant will produce 9 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel. In addition, the plant will also produce 1 million gallons of renewable diesel yearly. LanzaJet claims the Bill Gates Fund will help the company a lot. It will ensure that the plant will produce twice as much sustainable jet fuel as the U.S. does. LanzaJet uses alcohol from products such as sugar cane and waste corn to produce fuel. The company says its carbon release will reduce by at least 70 per cent relative to regular jet fuel.

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Bill Gates released the funds through some of his companies

Bill Gates founded the Breakthrough Energy Fund in 2015 to promote innovation and investment in clean energy technologies. The $50 million investment reportedly comes from Microsoft. A fraction will also come from BlackRock Foundation, Builders Vision and the Gates Foundation. Before that, LanzaJet had raised hundreds of millions of dollars in financing.

Commercial aircraft emit only about 2 per cent of all human emissions of carbon dioxide. Sustainable aviation fuels are becoming increasingly important. Airlines are planning how to reduce their climate impact. This is in order to meet the International Air Transport Association (IATA) goal. The goal is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

In December 2021, United Airlines conducted a test to fly entirely on sustainable aviation fuel. At the time, a Boeing 737 Max 8 was flying from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C. One of the engines was running on 500 gallons of sustainable aviation fuel. The other is running 500 gallons of conventional jet fuel. In March, an Airbus A380 superjumbo conducted a similar test. It used fuel derived from cooking oil.

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