British Airways (OTC:BAIRY), in partnership with the US company Solena Group, announced plans 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 destined for London landfills.
The production facility, likely to be sited in east London, will convert 500,000 tons of waste per year into 16 million gallons of jet fuel through the Fischer Tropsch process -- resulting in lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95% compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.
British Airways said this volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all of the carrier's 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. The plant will also burn additional gas created in the process to generate up to 20 megawatts (MW) of carbon neutral electricity a year to feed into the grid.
The Mayor of London launched the 'Foodwaste 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 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.
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.
British Airways has a goal of reducing net carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.
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.
Seattle, Washington-based AltAir Fuels recently announced plans to supply up to 750 million gallons of renewable jet fuel made from camelina oil to airlines operating at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Although bio-based jet fuel has been approved for blending in the US, it has yet to be approved by Britain's ministry of defense, according to a Reuters report.
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