Monster of the Midway: The LanzaJet, Marquis to build 120mgy SAF project in Illinois

February 10, 2022 |

LanzaJet and Marquis Sustainable Aviation Fuel signed an MOU to construct a 120 million gallons per year integrated sustainable fuels plant in the U.S. using low-carbon intensity feedstocks to produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel via the LanzaJet Alcohol-to-Jet process. The plant will employ on-site carbon capture and sequestration and renewable energy to produce SAF, resulting in a lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction of more than 70% compared to conventional jet fuel.

The Partnership

The partnership between these two Illinois headquartered companies will allow the Marquis Industrial Complex to lead in the development of sustainable fuels.  The fully integrated SAF plant significantly expands the production of sustainable fuels in the U.S and places Illinois at the center of this expansion in building sustainable infrastructure that will help reduce carbon emissions. It serves as an example of the types of commercial plants and scale that can be developed across the U.S. LanzaJet recently announced its first plant in Georgia is expected to enter commercial operations in 2023. That plant will use low-CI, sustainably certified ethanol produced from waste sources and existing energy crops. Production of sustainable fuel made from low carbon intensity corn, in partnership with Marquis, is scheduled to begin engineering in 2022.

What’s that tech, again?

PNNL developed a unique catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) which LanzaTech took from the laboratory to pilot scale. LanzaJet is now commercially deploying the technology globally.

The Marquis site and backstory

This first-of-a-kind fully integrated sustainable fuels production facility will be located in the Marquis Industrial Complex in Hennepin, Illinois, just two hours southwest of Chicago, on a 2,500-acre industrial site adjacent to the Illinois River. Marquis recently announced the plan for the Marquis Industrial Complex as the world’s first carbon-neutral industrial complex with on-site access to carbon injection.

Marquis Industrial Complex is situated on the Mt. Simon geological formation in Hennepin, Illinois, with the capacity to store over 100 million tons of Carbon Dioxide. Marquis also intends on investing in a renewable oil plant to produce low-carbon soybean oil for the production of renewable diesel. Marquis further plans to produce blue hydrogen and blue ammonia to aid in decarbonizing agriculture and future marine transportation.

In October we reported that Marquis began drilling its first 5,000-foot test well to determine the total capacity available for carbon sequestration in the Mt. Simon Sandstone on its site. The Marquis Industrial Park  has multiple natural gas lines, access to the electrical transmission grid, year-round river barge loading, interstate highway, and Class 1 railroad.

Marquis has been transitioning beyond the ethanol, DDGs, corn oil and CO2 businesses that are the hallmarks of first-generation ethanol,. We reported in April 2019 that Marquis Inc. pulled the plug on its planned $500 million ethanol plant in Scott County ahead of a deadline at the end of the month to release its options on 800 acres of land for the project. In a press release, the company’s CEO reported said that pending legislation at the state level will boost project development costs to the point of making the facility’s ROI inviable. Which legislation was impacting the project’s development was not cited. The company also pointed to international trade policies that have dampened demand for US ethanol imports.

The LanzaJet backstory

We reported in January that LanzaJet secured financing for its Freedom Pines Fuels plant in Soperton, Georgia, through the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. The Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund made a $50 million investment to support the construction of LanzaJet’s (and the world’s) first alcohol-to-jet sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant. The innovative structure of Microsoft’s financing will enable LanzaJet to bring lower-cost sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel to the global market.

We reported last April that Shell invested in LanzaJet, to scale the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Other investors include LanzaTech, Suncor Energy, British Airways and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. LJ has a n extensive collaboration in place also with All Nippon Airways.

We reported in January 2021 that the FLITE consortium, led by SkyNRG and with LanzaTech as the technology provider, will build the first-of-its-kind LanzaJetTM Alcohol to Jet (AtJ) facility. The facility will convert waste-based ethanol to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at a scale of over 30,000 tons/yr. The project received €20 million in grant funding from the EU H2020 program and is a major milestone on the path to a net-zero emission for the aviation industry.

Headin’ for O’Hare

The facility is strategically positioned for global distribution via direct access to the Illinois River and proximity to vital pipelines to deliver sustainable fuels to Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport. The Marquis Industrial Complex also connects with a Class I railroad and multiple interstate highways.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“We strongly believe in the importance of taking action today to enable the decarbonization of industry, and our partnership with Marquis SAF is a clear example of putting this into practice. We’re able to drive deeper GHG reductions in existing biofuel production, ensure a prosperous future for producers and farmers alike, and decarbonize the aviation sector by deploying lowcarbon liquid fuels where they will be needed most in the future – and importantly where they will drive the largest climate and air quality benefits when also considering non-CO2 impacts” said Jimmy Samartzis, LanzaJet CEO. “This demonstrates the opportunity for the U.S. to produce meaningful volumes of sustainable aviation fuel at scale, transitioning feedstocks from the production of traditional biofuels into sustainable aviation fuel. SAF from existing sources alone could replace more than 50% of U.S. fossil jet fuel use. The key is low carbon intensity, where existing infrastructure is paired with carbon capture and sequestration and renewable energy. Marquis is doing exactly this and makes for a great partnership with LanzaJet.”

“The partnership we now have in place with LanzaJet allows our company to advance low-carbon solutions to address the climate crisis,” said Mark Marquis, CEO of Marquis SAF. “LanzaJet’s ATJ technology will be fully integrated into our sustainable fuels plant with a focus on producing sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel. In addition, we are making investments in carbon capture, corn kernel fiber technology, and utilizing Marquis’ proprietary ProCap system for the production of high protein feed and renewable corn oil in this new state-of-the-art facility. This will enable us to lead the decarbonization of the transportation sector in the years to come.”

The Bottom Line

It’s an MOU, but it’s a big one in three ways. First, the capacity, huge. Second, the bellwether Marquis-LJ partnership which shows where ethanol is headed. Third, the integration of SAF with CO2 sequestration, which is going to drive super-low carbon intensity ratings and higher product values.

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