British Airways, in partnership with the Solena Group, is to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant and plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet from 2014.
The new fuel will be derived from waste biomass and manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility that can convert a variety of waste materials, destined for landfill, into aviation fuel.
The self-contained plant, likely to be sited in east London, will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel through a process that offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 per cent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.
This volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all of British Airways’ flights at nearby London City Airport carbon-neutral. Put another way, the fuel’s reduction in carbon emissions would be the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road per year.
The project will make further major savings in greenhouse emissions by reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill, thus avoiding production of the powerful global warming agent, methane, and generating 20MW of electricity a year from renewable sources. British Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced by the plant, which will be built by the Solena Group Inc., an advanced bio energy and bio fuels company based in Washington DC. Four sites in the east of London are among those under consideration for the construction of the bio-jet fuel plant.
The scheme will lead to the creation of up to 1,200 jobs in the area and could reduce significantly local authority landfill tax bills.
Willie Walsh, British Airways‘ chief executive, said:
‘This unique partnership with Solena will pave the way for realising our ambitious goal of reducing net carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. We believe it will lead to the production of a real sustainable alternative to jet kerosene. We are absolutely determined to reduce our impact on climate change and are proud to lead the way on aviation’s environmental initiatives.’
Dr Robert Do, chairman and chief executive of the Solena Group said:
‘The Solena – British Airways BioJetFuel project will efficiently convert biomass into clean renewable fuels and electricity and is completely carbon neutral. The plant will be a state-of-the-art renewable fuel manufacturing facility, distinct from a standard waste to energy incinerator facility. It will not produce any polluting emissions or undesirable by-products.’
The Mayor of London has recently set out his vision to save millions from the city’s waste bills.
This project could be part of the solution. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
‘I welcome this fantastic new ‘carbon lite’ fuel production facility in London. City Hall has been working with British Airways and Solena to drive this project forward to help untap the massive potential to generate cleaner, less polluting energy from waste, otherwise destined for landfill. We are working to bring together more organisations in this way to harvest the capital’s rubbish to fuel homes, businesses and even transport.’
- The green fuel will be produced by feeding waste into a patented high temperature gasifier, producing BioSynGas. An established process known as Fischer Tropsch then converts the gas into biofuels to produce biojet fuel and bionaphtha. Bionaphtha is used as a blending component in petrol and also as a feedstock for the petrochemicals industry.
- The plant will emit oxygen, plus small quantities of nitrogen, argon, steam (water vapour), and CO2. The plant itself will be CO2 neutral. The Fischer Tropsch tail gas can be used to produce 20MW of excess electricity for export to the national grid or converted into steam to be used in a district heating system. The only solid waste product is an inert vitrified slag material, which can be used as an alternative to aggregates used in construction.
- The overall equivalent CO2 reduction as a result of the plant producing sustainable energy and fuel is approximately 550,000 tonnes per year. This includes a 250,000 tonne saving from diverting mixed waste from landfill, 145,000 tonne lifecycle saving of the biofuel compared to fossil fuel, 86,000 tonnes from the renewable 20MW of electricity and a further 72,000 tonnes from the naphtha.
- 500,000 tonnes of biomass feedstock will be utilised per year, which could otherwise be destined for landfill. Local authorities pay for the disposal of waste to landfill through a landfill tax. This is currently £40 per tonne, rising to £72 per tonne by 2013/14. Based on the 500,000 figure, this alone will save £36 million in landfill costs for local authorities which could be used to lower council tax.
- Solena Group Inc is a leader in Reliable, Renewable and Revolutionary Energy Solutions. Headquartered in Washington DC, Solena works with key partners to establish its next generation zero emissions bio-energy solutions around the world. The core of Solena’s solutions is its patented Solena Plasma Gasification (SPG) technology, which is capable of producing a synthetic fuel gas (BioSynGas) from the thermal conversion of bio-based hydrocarbons with the highest energy conversion efficiencies in the industry. Arcadis UK have been the lead consultants on this project.
- The Mayor of London launched the Food Waste to Fuel Alliance last year to speed up the development of infrastructure to convert London’s food waste into eco-fuel to cut landfill rates and carbon emissions. Every year, London produces a nearly three million tonnes of organic waste, mainly from food. Nearly two thirds of this waste is currently burnt in incinerators or buried in landfill, which produces potent climate change gases. The Food Waste to Fuel Alliance will bring together developers, food producers, energy companies and others key parties to provide the new infrastructure needed in London to extract the fuel from the capital’s leftover food. This will act as an alternative to fossil fuels to produce a greener energy to heat and power homes and power public transport and other vehicles. The Mayor wants the Alliance, supported by London’s Waste and Recycling Board, to deliver five exemplar new ‘bio-fuel’ plants in the capital by 2012.