British Airways has entered a partnership with Velocys to design a series of waste plants that convert household waste into renewable jet fuel to power its fleet.
The first plant will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household waste per-year, destined for landfill or incineration, including diapers, plastic food containers and chocolate bar wrappers, and convert it into clean-burning, sustainable fuels. This will contribute to the airline’s commitment to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2050.
As well as helping the airline industry reduce its carbon emissions this initiative will also significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The UK still sends more than 15 million tonnes of waste per year to landfill sites which not only damages the natural environment but also releases further greenhouse gases.
The planned plant will produce enough fuel to power all British Airways’ 787 Dreamliner operated flights from London to San Jose, California and New Orleans, Louisiana for a whole year. It would be the first plant of this scale. The airline plans to supply its aircraft fleet with increasing amounts of sustainable jet fuel in the next decade.
The jet fuel produced at the plant will deliver more than 60% greenhouse gas reduction, compared with conventional fossil fuel, delivering 60,000 tonnes of CO2 savings every year. This will contribute to both global carbon emissions reductions and local air quality improvements around major airports.
Other members of the renewable jet fuel from waste partnership include:
Suez, a world leading expert in recycling and waste management, which intends to provide technical and operational expertise and manage the supply of feedstock to the project; and
Norma, an affiliate of Ervington Investments, Velocys’ largest investor, which is a potential investor in the project.
During the past week the UK Department for Transport has published changes to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), and for the first time, sustainable jet fuel will be included in its incentive scheme. These changes to the RTFO are designed to promote sustainable aviation. Once implemented, they are expected to provide long term policy support for this market.
Velocys technology is specifically designed for smaller scales, combining super-active catalysts with microchannel reactors that are at the heart of smaller scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) and biomass-to-liquids (BTL). Conventional FT plants are only economically viable at production capacities of 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) or higher. Velocys’ microchannel FT technology is commercially viable at capacities of as low as 1,500 bpd.
Its Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology is commercially available and a commercial reference plant is currently being commissioned. The technology has been demonstrated in its pilot plant and at three field demonstrations.
Velocys is focused on developing a series of biorefineries, with its partners, to address the growing, attractive market for renewable jet fuel and diesel, principally in the US.