British Airways' to Create Jet Fuel from Landfill Waste

British Airways will explore waste to fuel project photo

Image credit: Adrian Pingstone via Commons.Wikimedia

With the US Airforce announcing that cost-competitive algae jet fuel may be just months away, greener flying is looking less and less like pie in the sky. Despite seeing its profits squeezed by Eurostar and high oil prices, British Airways has been pushing ahead with its own plans for sustainable jet fuel. And this stuff is going to be made from landfill waste. According to Renewable Energy World, British Airways' planned waste-to-energy fuel plant is slated for construction in east London and should be converting 500,000 tonnes of organic waste per year into 16 million gallons of jet fuel.

The initiative is a partnership with US-based biofuels company Solena, and British Airways hopes to be using the fuel by 2014 to help it reach its goal of 50% reduced emissions by 2050. The fuel will be produced by feeding waste into a patented high temperature gasifier, producing BioSynGas which is then converted into jet fuel using the Fischer Tropsch process. As a bonus, the project will reduce methane emissions from landfill and create a further by-product of 20 MW electricity per year.

It all looks pretty exciting. There are, of course, critics out there. Biofuels Watch points out that the devil is in the details—with British Airways currently committing to only 10% use of such biofuels by 2050. But 2050 is a long time away, so who knows what developments will come in between now and then. Whatever happens, jet planes running on 10% landfill waste looks a whole lot better than 100% fossil fuels.

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