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Southwest Acquires Dallas-Based Renewables Company

As part of its net-zero goal, the airline takes SAFFiRE under its wing

By Erik Tormoen

Southwest Airlines Co. is going greener with help from Dallas. The airline announced last month it is acquiring the Dallas-based SAFFiRE Renewables. Part of a federal project to develop renewable ethanol, the plan is to turn that ethanol into low-carbon aviation fuel.

Southwest Airlines acquires SAFFiRE Renewables || Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

“This acquisition marks Southwest’s transition from investor to sole owner of SAFFiRE,” says Bob Jordan, president and CEO of Southwest Airlines, in a prepared statement, “expressing our confidence in SAFFiRE’s technology and its potential to advance our sustainability goals as well as the goals of the broader industry.”

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plays a key part in Southwest’s “Nonstop to Net Zero” plan, Jordan continues, promising net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The news includes a pilot plant in development at an ethanol facility in Liberal, Kansas. Initially, this plant is intended to utilize SAFFiRE’s exclusive technology license from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to process 10 tons of corn stover per day for the production of renewable ethanol.

LanzaJet will then convert that ethanol into SAF. The Illinois-based sustainable fuels technology company opened the world’s first ethanol-to-SAF commercial plant in Georgia earlier this year.

“Renewable ethanol is an important feedstock to realizing high-volume, affordable SAF, which is a critical part of the journey to net-zero carbon emissions,” says Tom Nealon, CEO of SAFFiRE, in a prepared statement.

The acquisition comes shortly after Southwest announced an investment in LanzaJet. Southwest began investing SAFFiRE in 2022.