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British Airways cancels biofuel plant

Ben Sampson

ba biofuel FP
ba biofuel FP

First-of-kind waste to jet fuel plant planned for Essex refinery cancelled because of lack of funding



Plans to build a first-of-a-kind biofuel plant, which would have
converted landfill waste into jet fuel near Thurrock, Essex, have been scrapped because of lack of funding.

British Airways’ Greensky London plant, announced last April, would have been built at the former Coryton refinery and employed 150 people when commissioned in 2017. 

However the airline admitted this month that it had been forced to cancel the innovative project after its technology partner, biofuels company Solena Fuels, filed for bankruptcy in the US late last year. 

BA said: “The project didn’t get the funding that Solena required to progress it through to construction. We had committed to purchase the plant’s off-take and to invest financially at a certain stage, but that stage was not met.

“We gave our full support to Solena Fuels for a number of years and were fully committed to making the project a success.”

The company said that several factors contributed to its failure to progress the plan, including falling oil prices, lack of policy support for such projects in the UK, and Solena Fuels’ inability to progress the initiative to the satisfaction of investors.

BA said last year that the plant’s initial engineering design had been completed. The plant was to use high-temperature plasma gasification technology to convert the waste into a synthetic gas. The syngas would then have been converted into liquid hydrocarbons using third-party technologies that would have cleaned and conditioned it, including a Velocys Fischer-Tropsch conversion process, hydrocracking and electric power production.

The plant was expected to convert around 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste into 120,000 tonnes of liquid fuel a year. BA had committed to purchase 50,000 tonnes a year of the jet fuel produced at market competitive rates.

The Fischer-Tropsch process converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. Hydrocracking is a process by which hydrocarbon molecules are broken into simpler molecules by the addition of hydrogen under high pressure and in the presence of a catalyst.

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