BA and Solena Fuels to build GreenSky landfill-waste-to-jet-fuel plant in Thurrock; completion in 2017
British Airways and its partner Solena Fuels announced that the UK GreenSky facility to convert landfill waste into jet fuel (earlier post) will be built in Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex. The site has excellent transport links and existing fuel storage facilities. One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs.
The plant will convert approximately 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels using Solena’s Integrated Biomass-Gas to Liquid (IBGTL) technology. British Airways has committed to purchasing, at market competitive prices, the jet fuel produced by the plant for the next 11 years which equates to about $550 million at today’s prices. It is also providing construction capital and becoming a minority share holder in GreenSky.
Solena’s Integrated Biomass-Gas to Liquid (IBGTL) solution is based on an industry-proven Fischer-Tropsch platform coupled with Solena’s proprietary high temperature plasma gasification technology to produce sustainable fuels from low carbon-bearing organic waste.
IBGTL consists of five integrated processing islands: (i) Solena’s proprietary high-temperature gasification; (ii) BioSynGas conditioning; (iii) Fischer-Tropsch processing; (iv) FT wax upgrading; and (v) Power production.
High Temperature Gasification. This processing block receives the waste biomass via screw feeders which deliver the feedstock to the Solena Plasma Gasification Vessels (SPGV), which host the plasma heating systems. The plasma heating system generates an extremely high temperature that heats a carbon catalytic bed, which forms the base of Solena’s counter-current, fixed bed gasification process. (Plasma is a very high-temperature ionized gas.) The carbon catalytic bed distributes the high temperature heat evenly over the entire cross section of the SPGV.
The high operating temperatures causes all organic hydrocarbon materials to dissociate into basic elemental gases while at the same time all the inorganic inert materials are melted into an inert and non-leachable slag. This process of thermal de-polymerization of organic materials and melting of inorganic materials by means of high temperature plasma energy is Solena’s patented gasification system.
The SPGV efficiency and functionality is based on several factors including its capacity to deliver reliable and instant high temperature heat through the plasma arc torch heating system.
BioSynGas Cleaning & Conditioning. The BioSynGas produced in the Gasification Island is sent to Cleaning & Conditioning. The raw BioSynGas is free of tar, soot, or medium to long chain hydrocarbons as it leaves the SPGV, and its composition is continuously monitored as it exits the SPGV. In the Cleaning & Conditioning Island, the BioSynGas is cooled, any acidic gases are removed and the H2:CO ratios adjusted to ensure that the BioSynGas meets or exceeds the feed gas specifications required in the FT process.
Velocys micro-channel Fischer-Tropsch reactor. Click to enlarge.
FT Processing. The FT processing island converts the syngas via an exothermic chemical synthesis reaction into long-chain hydrocarbons such as wax and light Fischer-Tropsch liquids. The IBGTL facility will utilize Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch micro-channel reactor technology and FT catalysts to convert the BioSynGas into crude FT wax.
The main advantage of Velocys’ micro-channel FT reactors stems from the increased internal surface area in the reactors, which translates into optimum heat transfer efficiency and enhanced interaction between the BioSynGas and the FT catalyst.
FT Wax Upgrading. Used extensively in the refining industry today, the FT wax upgrading process combines hydrocracking and hydrotreating to convert the FT waxes into various liquid fuels. The processed streams are subsequently separated into jet, diesel fuel and naphtha. As in the FT processing island, the tail gas from the upgrading system is also routed to the power generation for additional power production.
Power Production. The Fischer-Tropsch and upgrading islands produce tail gases that are combustible and as such, these gases are used within the IBGTL facility for power generation. Tail gases are combusted in a gas boiler to generate steam. The steam generated is then used to drive a steam turbine for generating electrical energy. In addition to the steam produced in the combined cycle, there are other instances in the plant where steam is produced (hot BioSynGas heat recovery and FT process exothermic reaction). This steam is also sent to the steam turbine to maximize power production and energy efficiency of the plant.
Thames Enterprise Park and neighboring Thames Oilport, established in 2012, is a joint venture with Greenergy as one of the investors and the site project facilitator for this project. It is situated on an industrial site on the estuary of the River Thames.
The assets of the former Petroplus Coryton Oil Refinery were acquired by a consortium comprising Vopak, Shell and Greenergy in September 2012 and rebranded as a joint venture named Thames Oilport. The joint venture proposes to develop a refurbished terminal for the bulk importation and blending of fuels and to redevelop the rest of the former refinery site as Thames Enterprise Park.