Steelmakers to fuel aircraft within 18 months

SBB 13 October New Zealand steel-based technology firm, Lanzatech, has signed an agreement with airline Virgin Atlantic to provide fuel for its aircraft, Steel Business Briefing learns. The fuel will be produced from steelmaking waste gases.

Lanzatech plans to establish a pilot plant to produce ethanol from Corex and BOF gases at a Baosteel plant in China by the end of the year, as previously reported. The company also has a project planned with India’s Jindal Steel & Power and an agreement with the USA’s Harsco to further spread the technology.

The technology can be applied to any carbon-containing waste gas, such as from blast furnaces, and BOFs, Lanzatech tells SBB. The steel industry alone could provide up to 15bn gallons of jet fuel annually, if the technology spreads to all integrated steelmakers, says Virgin president, Richard Branson.

The technology could also provide steelmakers with an alternative source of revenue, SBB notes.

This ethanol will then be processed by Swedish BioFuels into aircraft fuel. A demonstration flight using the fuel will be made in 12 to 18 months, Virgin says. The fuel could then be used on some commercial flights from 2014.


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