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British Airways, Solena to develop jet biofuel plant

2 March 2010

British Airways partnered with Solena Group to establish Europe’s first jet biofuel plant. The plant will be built by the Solena Group, an advanced bioenergy and biofuels company based in Washington, DC. British Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced by the plant. The airline plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet from 2014.

The new fuel, derived from waste biomass, will be manufactured in a state-of-the-art, self-contained facility that can convert a variety of waste materials, destined for landfill, into aviation fuel. The production process involves high temperature gasification of organic waste to produce bio syngas, followed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis to produce jet fuel and naphta. A solid waste product, an inert vitrified slag material, produced in the process could be used as an alternative to aggregates used in construction.

The plant, likely to be sited in east London, will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of jet fuel. The Fischer-Tropsch tail gas can be used to produce 20 MW of excess electricity.

The production process will offer lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95% compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene, according to British Airways. The project will make further savings in greenhouse emissions by reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill, thus avoiding production of another global warming agent, methane.

Source: British Airways