16 April 2014

Waste-to-jet fuel plant to be developed in Thurrock

By Will Date

British Airways and American-owned fuel production firm Solena Fuels Ltd have located a site in Thurrock, Essex for the development of a gasification facility to turn commercial and industrial waste into aviation fuel.

The partnership has located a site at the Thames Enterprise Park, which formerly housed the Coryton Oil refinery, for the GreenSky development. The location is said to have the necessary transport links and fuel storage facilities to serve the needs of the large-scale gasification plant.

The 'GreenSky' facility is expected to be operational by 2017

The ‘GreenSky’ facility is expected to be operational by 2017

It is hoped that the facility will be fully operational by 2017.

Solena will treat up to 575,000 tonnes of residual waste per year at the site, producing around 120,000 tonnes of clean fuel 50,000 tonnes of which will be refined for aviation use.

This will be produced by feeding waste into a patented high temperature gasifier, producing BioSynGas. A process known as Velocys-Tropsch will then convert the gas into biojet fuel and bionaphtha – which is used as a blending component in petrol and also as a feedstock for the petrochemicals industry.

Waste that will be processed at the site is likely to comprise materials such as organic waste, plastic, paper and wood. Solena is understood to be close to securing arrangements with two waste suppliers who will provide fuel for the plant.

Biofuel

British Airways has made a long-term commitment to purchase all 50,000 tonnes of the jet fuel produced at the plant at market competitive rates. Biofuel produced at the plant will be blended with other jet fuels before it is used in BA airliners.

The two firms originally announced plans to produce sustainable jet fuel facility in February 2010 having located four suitable sites for the development (see letsrecycle.com story).

Solena and Biritsh Airways hope to begin construction of the plant within 12 months, with planning permission for the site expected to be awarded shortly.

Robert Do, president and chief executive of Solena Fuels, said: We are excited to help British Airways achieve its sustainability goals by providing an innovative solution to produce drop-in jet fuel. We anticipate starting construction of the site in approximately 12 months after all the requisite permits and agreements have been obtained. We are looking forward to successfully building GreenSky London and partnering with British Airways on additional facilities in the United Kingdom.

According to Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways parent company IAG, the off-take agreement between the two firms will be enough to fuel all of the airliners flights from the nearby London City Airport.

He said: We are always striving to reduce our impact on climate change and this first-of-its-kind project marks a significant step for the aviation industry.

The construction of the GreenSky London fuel facility at Thames Enterprise Park will lay the foundations for British Airways to reduce its carbon emissions significantly. The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.

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