UK Government Unveils ‘Green Fuel’ Contest Finalists

Credit: Nova Pangaea

Eight sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) projects ranging from the capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide to processing of sewage have been shortlisted for funding under a UK government contest designed to promote alternative fuel production technologies at commercial scale.

Launched in March, the £15 million ($21 million) Department of Transport Green Fuels, Green Skies (GFGS) competition is specifically targeted at technology demonstrations paving the way towards commercial production of an eligible SAF pathway. It also aims to lead the way to production of commercially significant volumes of fuel—some of which would be used for certification. The initiative includes development of a SAF commercialization strategy as well as demonstrations of greenhouse-gas reductions.

All the selected projects show “a clear potential to produce SAF capable of reducing emissions by more than 70% on a lifecycle basis when used in place of conventional fossil jet fuel,” the department said.

Shortlisted organizations and companies include Advanced Biofuel Solutions, which will work with a British refinery and engineering company to produce a detailed engineering design for a new facility in Cheshire, England. The plant would use gasification and Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology to convert 146,600 tons (133,000 metric tonnes) of waste a year into a biocrude that can be upgraded to aviation fuel.

The list also includes alfanar’s lighthouse green fuels project, which would use gasification and FT technology to convert household and commercial waste into around 40 million U.S. gal. (180 million liters) of SAF and naphtha. Fulcrum NorthPoint’s project, being developed at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in Ellesmere Port in northwest England, will meanwhile leverage processes based on the company’s first commercial-scale facility currently being commissioned in the U.S. to convert residual waste into around 100 million liters of SAF using gasification and FT technology.

Green Fuels Research’s firefly project, held jointly with Petrofac and Cranfield University, will demonstrate and certify a technology route to SAF from sewage sludge, a fully biogenic, UK-derived waste feedstock. Lanzatech UK will conduct preliminary work on a proposed facility in South Wales that will produce SAF using ethanol from biogenic wastes and industry flue gases.

A feasibility study involving Lanzatech UK and Carbon Engineering also will focus on converting carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere using Carbon Engineering’s direct air capture technology, and hydrogen from water electrolysis, into SAF. The process will use LanzaTech’s gas fermentation and LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet technology developed by company unit LanzaTech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The project also includes British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which will study offtake potential.

Another project partnering with British Airways and LanzaJet is led by Nova Pangaea Technologies and aims to design a facility to produce SAF using UK woody residues. The final shortlisted company, Velocys Projects, also is working with British Airways to build a commercial waste-to-SAF plant in Lincolnshire where it will convert household waste into SAF using gasification and FT technology.

The GFGS contest follows earlier Department for Transport industry competitions, including the Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition and the ongoing Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition. British government research indicates that by 2040 the SAF sector could generate up to £1.66 billion a year for the UK economy, and create up to 11,000 jobs.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.