Page last updated at 05:34 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

BA agrees deal for UK jet biofuel plant

By Richard Scott
Transport correspondent, BBC News

British Airways planes
BA says the plant will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill

British Airways has struck a deal to build the first plant in Europe to produce jet fuel from waste matter.

Some 500,000 tonnes of waste will be used by the UK facility each year to produce 16 million gallons of fuel.

Construction of the plant in east London will start within two years. It is set to produce fuel from 2014, creating up to 1,200 jobs.

BA said the plant would produce twice the amount of fuel needed to power all its flights from London City Airport.

It would only account for about 2% of flights from Heathrow, however.

Greenhouse gas

BA argues the plant will cut the amount of waste that is sent to landfill, reducing the amount of methane that is produced.

Methane is thought to be a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The plant will be built by a US company Solena Group, with BA committing to buy all of its output.

It will be another four years before it starts producing fuel, and it is unlikely to work at full capacity straight away.

The ideal source material for the plant is waste matter that has a high carbon content.

Biofuel creation

The waste is fed into a high temperature "gasifier" to produce BioSynGas.

A chemical process called Fischer Tropsch is then used to convert the gas into biofuel.

Waste products from the process can be used to power the plant as well as supply 20MW of electricity to the national grid.

A solid waste product can be used as an aggregate in construction.

The fuel produced by the plant is certified for use in other countries, but not currently in the UK.

BA says it is confident of getting the certification by the time the plant starts producing fuel, either for use in a blend with traditional kerosene or on its own.

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