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Lift off for projects fuelling jet liners with bin liners

23 December 2022
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The government has awarded five projects a share of the £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund.

The successful projects include Oxford-headquartered Velocys, which has been awarded £27 million. Velocys' plant at Immingham in Lincolnshire is developing a commercial scale plant that uses gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert black bin bag waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The plant is expected to be operational in 2028 and produce 37.4kt/y of SAF when at full operational capacity.

A second Velocys projet, e-Alto, has been awarded £2,523,094 towards the development of a large demonstration plant that uses power-to-liquid technology to convert carbon dioxide from a fossil gas-powered electricity plant and hydrogen made from renewable electricity into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Other projects awarded funding include SAF plants in Teesside, Immingham and Ellesmere Port which will convert everyday household and commercial waste, such as black bin bags, into sustainable jet fuel and one in Port Talbot which will convert steel mill off-gases into sustainable jet fuel and the early development of a SAF plant using carbon capture and hydrogen made from renewable electricity.

Building on the success of the green fuels, green skies programme, the five projects alone will produce more than 300,000 tonnes of SAF a year – enough to fly to the moon and back an estimated 60 times.

The successful projects will also slash CO2 emissions by an average of 200,000 tonnes each year once fully up and running – the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Using waste or by-products to refuel airliners sounds like a flight of fancy, but thanks to £165 million of government funding it’s going to help us make guilt-free flying a reality.

"It’s exactly this kind of innovation that will help us create thousands of green jobs across the country and slash our carbon emissions."

Launched alongside the Jet Zero strategy in July 2022, the Advanced Fuel Fund is designed to support our vision to be a world leader in sustainable aviation fuel by accelerating the development of SAF production plants in the UK, helping the government to achieve its aim of having at least 5 commercial SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: "The jet zero strategy was a real statement of intent from government that aviation, without the carbon, is an achievable end goal by 2050. This £165 million of funding – alongside the 10% SAF mandate by 2030 shows the government shares our ambition of a home-grown SAF industry here in the UK. This could generate tens of thousands of jobs and huge GVA, levelling-up and exports potential for the UK. It’s a big prize and one we are committed to working with ministers to achieve."

Henrik Wareborn, Chief Executive Officer, Velocys, said: "Velocys is delighted to receive 2 grant awards from the Advanced Fuels Fund, which will help to accelerate the production of SAF at commercial scale in the UK using our technology. The Altalto grant will allow us to begin FEED for our waste-to-SAF plant in Immingham, which already has planning permission. The e-fuels grant allows us to work with our partners to explore the UK based production of power-to-liquid SAF."

The announcement comes less than a week after the government announced that Virgin Atlantic has won the race to make the first net zero transatlantic flight next year – powered by SAF.

In 2023, one of Virgin Atlantic’s flagship Boeing 787s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, will take off from London Heathrow and make the journey to New York’s John F Kennedy Airport – a journey made by thousands of people for business, family, and leisure every week.

Made from waste materials or by-products such as household waste, industrial gases or used cooking oil, sustainable aviation fuels can achieve greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.

Alongside the news, the government is also announcing a further £1.2 million for the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) project to help develop key airport infrastructure, such as hydrogen re-fuelling technology, for zero emissions aircraft. Launched in 2021 with £3 million, this additional £1.2 million extends the project for another year to support airports prepare to handle new forms of aircraft.


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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