Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Reshuffle: What now for shale?

John McKenna, Editor

British Airways plans Europe's first 'sustainable' aviation fuel plant

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London – British Airways has unveiled plans to establish what it believes will be Europe’s first ’sustainable’ jet fuel plant. Design, engineering and management services company ARCADIS is to be the principle consultant on the project, which will be developed by Solena Group in partnership with the UK airline company.

The plant will produce aviation fuel from plasma gasification of biomass into BioSynGas which is then converted by Fischer Tropsch into biojet fuel. The facility will process all types of biomass and residue feedstock which will mainly be sourced from local waste management facilities. The process produces no waste products other than an environmentally-benign slag that can be used as construction aggregate.

When complete, the carbon reclamation & conditioning plant will convert 500 kilotonnes of carbon-based material per year into 16 million gallons of jet fuel. The process offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95% compared to fossil fuel derived kerosene, potentially reducing annual carbon emissions by 145kt. The plant will produce more than double the fuel needed to power all BA flights at London City Airport. First delivery is scheduled for 2014.

US-based Solena Group is the developer and owner of this technology and is partnering with BA on this project. To date the Solena team has been involved in the design or operation of most of the largest plasma processing plants in the world. “We are teaming up with ARCADIS on a global basis as they have the skills and people locally to deliver just what we need” says Robert Do, CEO of Solena Group.

According to ARCADIS, it will advise on and manage the delivery of the project, from managing the site selection for the self-contained plant to ensuring that the construction is completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.

When complete, the carbon reclamation & conditioning plant will convert 500 kiltonnes of carbon-based material per year into 16 million gallons of jet fuel. The process offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95% compared to fossil fuel derived kerosene, potentially reducing annual carbon emissions by 145kt. The plant will produce more than double the fuel needed to power all BA flights at London City Airport. First delivery is scheduled for 2014.

“The advanced biopower and biofuels processes now being developed will be fundamental in shaping the industrial sector of the future. Projects like this demonstrate that the technology is viable and the end results are extremely desirable and we are proud to be a part of this important development,” says Stephen Didcott, managing director for ARCADIS in the UK.

ARCADIS is currently working on identifying potential sites for the new facility which will require approximately 20 acres of land. The site, which needs good transport links and a consistent supply of feedstock, would ideally be in London. Disused brown-field sites are among those being considered.

Readers' comments (2)

  • I am curious about the potential life cycle green house gas effect. If the waste were not diverted into jet fuel, the waste most likely would have been land filled. In landfills items do not decompose readily and stay solid for extended periods of time, a news paper can be in legible for 15+ years and so during that time the waste is not convert to carbon dioxide and essentially becomes a carbon sink. Plastics especially can take hundred of years to decompose. If we divert that waste into fuel, that then burns and turns into carbon dioxide, is seems we would have the same net increase of CO2 into the atmosphere compared to fossil fuels, maybe even higher because it requires more processing. This would be true for at least the next hundred years maybe longer (which is a critical time to combat global warming), depending on decomposition rates in landfills.

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  • Julia - You exemplify the ignorance of many green energy sympathizers. It is the DE-SEQUESTERING of fossil carbon that is the problem. Learn what the term "Carbon cycle" means. It does not matter how long carbon sits in a landfill; it has been re-introduced to the carbon cycle after the environment has adapted to its absence for dozens or hundreds of MILLIONS of years. It will eventually reach life processes. It is the total mass of carbon in the biosphere that affects the carbon cycle and climate and organisms adapt to changes in the carbon cycle on a geologic time scale. Fossil carbon exhumation has been introduced within the scale of human culture (less than 500 years) and biologic processes cannot change at that pace.

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