Measurement and Testing

  • Turning Waste into Jet Fuel in the UK

Turning Waste into Jet Fuel in the UK

Jun 30 2020 Read 344 Times

While the aviation industry has a dirty reputation, a new project backed by British Airways and Shell has ambitious plans to transform household waste into jet fuel. Spearheaded by UK-based sustainable fuels company Velocys, the project will see a renewable jet fuel production plant constructed in Lincolnshire. At maximum capacity, Altalto Immingham will churn out 60 million litres of eco-friendly, low-carbon jet fuel and naphtha a year. The feedstock? Household waste that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

Waste-to-jet-fuel project gets green light

It will be the first of its kind in Europe, with Velocys CEO Henrik Wareborn saying, “It’s fantastic news that the Planning Committee has approved our waste-to-jet-fuel project, which will be a first for the UK.” Construction is set to start in 2022, with the plant set to be fully operational by 2025. “Sustainable aviation fuels are essential for decarbonising this challenging sector and achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” adds Wareborn. As well as a £4.5 million investment from British Airways and Shell, Velocys has secured funding worth £434,000 from the Department of Transport.

Pioneering the “green industrial revolution”

Local councillor Philip Jackson says, “This development cements North East Lincolnshire’s place at the heart of the UK’s green industrial revolution, an area already renowned for its fuels production and offshore wind industry.”

Currently, most jet fuel is made from oil, with very few viable alternatives available to airlines. Using municipal solid waste as a feedstock, the Altalto Immingham plant will transform everyday rubbish into useable jet fuel. Annually, the plant will divert more than 500 thousand tonnes of landfill and incineration waste. Compared to conventional jet fuel, the low-carbon version produced by Velocys will slash greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. Particulate matter from engine exhausts will be cut by 90%.

Minister for Transport Kelly Tolhurst welcomed the project, saying “innovative technologies – like the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuels – firms up the UK’s position as a leader in aviation, and shows the determination the industry has in continuing to operate, but in a more environmentally-friendly way.”

As well as the Altalto Immingham renewable jet fuel plant, other projects currently underway at Velocys include Bayou Fuels. Based in Mississippi, the plant will produce eco-friendly diesel fuel using woody biomass waste from the local lumber and paper industries.

For more insight into how the sector is working to reduce its environmental footprint don’t miss ‘Reducing Aviation Emissions: Navigating Challenges Towards Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs)’ which explores the future of SAFs.

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