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Sparks

New ‘SAF’ Just Dropped

A natural gas refinery is being converted into a plant for jet fuel made from carbon dioxide and green hydrogen.

An American airplane.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

American Airlines will purchase sustainable aviation fuel from a first-of-its-kind facility under development in Texas called Project Roadrunner. Infinium, the company behind the project, will be converting a former natural gas refinery into a commercial “eFuels” plant where it will make jet fuel and diesel from carbon dioxide and green hydrogen. The company announced the offtake agreement on Wednesday along with a $75 million equity agreement with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, a subsidiary of a climate tech firm backed by Bill Gates that focuses on first-of-a-kind projects. Infinium specified that it would use “waste CO2” for the process, although it did not say where the carbon would be sourced from.

Most so-called sustainable aviation fuels in use today are made from waste cooking oils and agricultural residues, but experts are skeptical they’re truly scalable. In theory, fuel made from carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere and green hydrogen could be carbon neutral, though capturing the carbon, and producing green hydrogen, requires a lot of energy.

This first appeared in Heatmap AM, a briefing on the most important climate and energy news. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week day:

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    Emily Pontecorvo profile image

    Emily Pontecorvo

    Emily is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Previously she was a staff writer at the nonprofit climate journalism outlet Grist, where she covered all aspects of decarbonization, from clean energy to electrified buildings to carbon dioxide removal.

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