In the United Kingdom (UK), British Airways (BA) is one step closer to powering its future fleet with sustainable jet fuel (SJF). Plans have been submitted to develop Europe’s first plant to turn household and commercial solid waste into biojet fuel. Altalto Immingham Ltd, a subsidiary of renewable fuels company Velocys and a collaboration with BA and Shell, has submitted a planning application to develop the site in Immingham, North East Lincolnshire, close to the Humber Estuary.
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The proposed state-of-the-art plant would take over half-a-million tonnes per annum of non-recyclable everyday household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration such as meal packaging, nappies, and takeaway coffee cups and convert it into cleaner-burning sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The technology, built by Velocys, is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 70 percent for every tonne of sustainable jet fuel that replaces a tonne of conventional fossil fuel.
British Airways (BA) intends to purchase jet fuel produced at the plant for use in its aircraft, an important step in the reduction of the airline’s carbon emissions towards the industry targets of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and a 50 percent reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels.
The submission of the planning application marks a major milestone in this project and we are delighted with the progress being made. Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation which will help power our aircraft for years to come. This development is an important step in the reduction of our carbon emissions and meeting the industry targets of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and a 50% in CO2 reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels. It also brings the UK another step closer to becoming a global leader in sustainable aviation fuels, said Alex Cruz, Chairman, and CEO of British Airways.
The fuel will also improve air quality with up to 90 percent reduction in soot from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100 percent reduction in sulphur oxides (SOx), and the technology offers a lower emissions route to process UK waste than incineration or landfill.
IAG, the parent company of BA, has said that it will invest a total of US$400 million on alternative sustainable fuel development over the next 20 years.
As part of its centenary celebrations, British Airways, in collaboration with Cranfield University, challenged academics from across the UK to develop a sustainable alternative fuel that could power a commercial aircraft on a long-haul flight, carrying up to 300 customers with zero net emissions.
University College of London students were crowned as the winners of its BA 2119: Future of Fuels challenge. The team received GBP25 000 (≈ EUR 27 349) to develop their idea further and will present at the IATA Alternative Fuels Symposium in New Orleans in November.
British Airways’ collaboration with Velocys was first announced in September 2017 and is part of the airline’s plans to develop long-term, sustainable fuel options and find solutions to help reduce aviation emissions, which contribute two percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions globally.
Originally a spin-out from Oxford University, Velocys acquired an American company based on complementary technology developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in 2008. Over 15 years Velocys has developed proprietary Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology that enables the production of drop-in transport fuels from the embedded carbon-sources in a variety of waste materials. Having demonstrated its technology at a commercial scale, Velocys is currently developing a project in Natchez, Mississippi, United States (US) as well as in Immingham, UK.
All the technology components have been assembled into a standardised integrated design and Velocys also supplies the central processing unit: micro-Channel Fischer-Tropsch reactors with the proprietary Velocys Actocat catalyst. This is the part of the process that turns a gas mixture of carbon and hydrogen into the liquid hydrocarbons required to create the fuels.
Being lead by Velocys, the Altalto Immingham development is also anticipated to bring hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, hundreds of jobs during construction and approximately 130 permanent jobs to the region. Subject to planning and funding decisions, the plant is due to begin construction in 2021 and to start producing commercial volumes of Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2024.
Velocys has a solution to decarbonise aviation fuel by converting an unwanted feedstock – household and commercial solid waste – to create a highly valuable product: sustainable transport fuels. This will cut greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, as well as improving air quality and helping to tackle our waste problem. This is a vital step towards the ultimate goal of living in a net-zero carbon world by the middle of the century, said Henrik Wareborn, CEO at Velocys.