British Airways Turns Garbage into Jet Fuel: Sustainable Solution or Incineration in Disguise?
Can garbage power your plane ride from New York to London? That’s the idea behind a new production plant that will transform waste from London's homes and businesses into a jet fuel that costs about the same price as conventional petroleum-based fuel but burns cleaner and produces fewer carbon emissions.
Solena Fuels, a company that produces aviation and marine fuels made from solid waste, expects to break ground on its new GreenSky jet fuel facility next year on the site of a former oil refinery outside of London. British Airways has made a $550 million commitment to purchase all the fuel produced by the plant in the 11-year period after it opens in 2017—equating to about 50 tons of fuel per year.
The city of London generates approximately 18 million tons of trash per year, according to Fast Company, and once the jet fuel facility is open for business, will send about a half a million tons of garbage originally destined for the landfill to GreenSky. Solena will turn this trash into 120,000 tons of jet fuel, first using its patented high-temperature plasma gasification technology to convert the waste into a synthetic gas; then the company will utilize various third-party technologies to transform the gas into a liquid fuel. The resulting synthetic fuel works like those produced from coal and natural gas that airlines already use and, unlike biofuels such as ethanol, can be used thousands of feet up in the air, Fast Company reported. Solena's product is considered a "drop-in" fuel, meaning airlines can use it without modifying their plane engines or fueling infrastructure.
Solena says its fuel produced from garbage burns cleaner than crude-based jet fuels, with virtually no sulfur emissions, a minimal amount of particulate matter and lower nitrogen oxide emissions during plane take-off. While British Airways is starting off small with this project (it will source only about 2 percent of its total fuel from GreenSky), the airline hopes to increase the amount of trash-based jet fuel it uses over time, Fast Company reported.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Triple Pundit.
Airplane image via Shutterstock.