Velocys, British Airways partner on proposed biojet project

By Erin Voegele | September 20, 2017

Velocys plc recently announced it has entered into a partnership with British Airways, Suez and Norma to prepare the business case for a commercial-scale waste-to-renewable-jet-fuel plant in the U.K.

According to Velocys, it will lead the initial feasibility stage of the project. All partnership members are providing funding. Subject to the success completion of all development states, the group aims to achieve a final investment decision by 2019.

The proposed plant would take in hundreds of thousands of metric tons of post-recycled waste annually, and covert that material into fuel. When compared to fossil-based jet fuel, the renewable jet fuel produced by the proposed facility is expected to deliver greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of more than 60 percent, with 90 percent reductions in particulate matter emissions.

Velocys is expected to supply its technology for the plant and provide project management, engineering, operations and technical service support. The company has developed gas-to-liquids (GTL) and biomass-to-liquids technology for the production of biobased fuels via a Fischer-Tropsch process. Envia Energy’s GTL plant in Oklahoma City currently utilizes Velocys’ technology. That facility began producing finished, saleable products, including renewable waxes, diesel and naphtha, in June. 

British Airways intends to use the jet fuel produced at the proposed facility to fuel its planes. In a statement, British Airways said the proposed plant will produce enough fuel to power all of its 787 Dreamliner operated flights from London to San Jose, California, and New Orleans, Louisiana, for a year.

Suiz, an expert in recycling and waste management, intends to provide technical and operational expertise to the project and manage the supply of feedstock. Norma, an affiliate of Ervington Investments, Velocys’ largest investor, will serve as a potential investor in the proposed project.  

Velocys’ said it believes that there is opportunity to develop a series of waste-to-jet fuel plants in the U.K., noting that changes to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation recently published by the U.K. Department for Transport for the first time allow jet fuel to qualify for credits under the RTFO. According to Velocys, these changes to the FTFO are expected to provide long-term policy support for the biobased jet fuel market.

“Our strategy remains highly focused on exploiting the large U.S. market for cellulosic renewable fuels,” said David Pummell, CEO of Velocys. “Alongside the excellent progress we are making there, we believe that the recently announced RTFO changes will allow the U.K. to become a world leader in sustainable jet fuel.  We are very pleased to be working with world class partners to help execute the vision of a repeatable series of plants, offering a commercially attractive route to a highly desirable product for an industry that now demands significant greenhouse gas reduction solutions. This opportunity leverages further our technology, integrated plant design and skills base, and is consistent with our renewable fuels strategy of delivering integrated plant solutions, in collaboration with partners, to fulfil a real market need.”