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British Airways to Build Biojet-Fuel Plant
British Airways, in partnership with the Solena Group, is to establish Europe's first biojet-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 and manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility that can convert a variety of waste materials, destined for landfill, into aviation fuel.
The plant will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste into 16 million gallons of biojet-fuel annually through a process that offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 percent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.
This volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all of British Airways' 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, and generating 20MW of electricity a year from renewable sources.
The green fuel will be produced by feeding waste into a patented high temperature gasifier, producing a synthetic fuel gas (BioSynGas). An established process known as Fischer Tropsch then converts the gas into biofuels to produce biojet-fuel and bionaphtha. Bionaphtha is used as a blending component in petrol and also as a feedstock for the petrochemicals industry.
The plant will emit oxygen, plus small quantities of nitrogen, argon, steam (water vapour), and CO2. The plant itself will be CO2 neutral. The Fischer Tropsch tail gas can be used to produce 20MW of excess electricity for export to the national grid or converted into steam to be used in a district heating system. The only solid waste product is an inert vitrified slag material, which can be used as an alternative to aggregates used in construction.
The overall equivalent CO2 reduction as a result of the plant producing sustainable energy and fuel is approximately 550,000 tonnes per year. This includes a 250,000 tonne saving from diverting mixed waste from landfill, 145,000 tonne lifecycle saving of the biofuel compared to fossil fuel, 86,000 tonnes from the renewable 20MW of electricity and a further 72,000 tonnes from the naphtha.
500,000 tonnes of biomass feedstock will be utilized per year, which could otherwise be destined for landfill. Local authorities pay for the disposal of waste to landfill through a landfill tax. This is currently £40 ($62.7) per tonne, rising to £72 ($112.8) per tonne by 2013/14. Based on the 500,000 figure, this alone will save £36 ($56.4) million in landfill costs for local authorities which could be used to lower council tax.
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