Australian airline QANTAS is planning to build a biofuel plant in Sydney and has teamed with US fuel supplier Solena to investigate the construction of the world’s second commercial waste biofuel plant in Sydney, a move that could create 1200 jobs units. They will burn rubbish in an effort to power the airline’s fleet with greener fuel.
This is one of two Qantas biofuel projects and expects to cut its carbon emissions and meet airline industry guidelines of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent a year to 2020 — or even a tougher UN target of 2 per cent. It is understood the other project involves using crops to make biofuel in what Qantas hopes could become a sustainable industry.
A similar plant being built with British Airways in London, due to come on line in 2014, will convert up to 500,000 tonnes of waste a year into 73 million litres of green jet fuel — enough to power 2 per cent of BA’s Heathrow fleet.
Solena estimates the process offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 per cent compared with fossil-fuel derived kerosene. It says the annual CO2 savings from the fuel it produces will be the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road. Projected CO2 savings of 550,000 tonnes a year include 250,000 tonnes from a reduction in waste sent to landfills, 86,000 tonnes from 20 megawatts of electricity a year generated from tail gas produced by the F-T process and 72,000 tonnes from a by product, naptha.
Using Solena’s patented plasma technology, which converts biomass into clean renewable energy, the plant will use agricultural and industrial waste, including Qantas’ generated waste, to create synthetic aviation biofuel. The plant will use scraps and other household material such as grass and tree cuttings and agricultural and industrial waste as a feedstock for the fuel.
The plant will emit oxygen plus small quantities of nitrogen, argon, steam and carbon dioxide but will be CO2-neutral. There will be added advantages to the airline because it will be able to use its own waste to produce fuel.
Qantas has had a long-standing interest in biofuels and is a member of the global Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group. Spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said the airline was closely involved with other industry stakeholders in a “road map” study into sustainable aviation fuel development in Australia.
“Under an agreement with Solena Fuels, we have committed to investigate the feasibility of a waste-based aviation fuel production plant in Australia,” Ms Wirth said. “We expect to produce a business case for such a plant within 12 months. While we are still in the early stages of this project, the possibilities are exciting.”
Qantas will also be talking to governments about their involvement in its alternative fuel plans.