Converting organic waste into sustainable aviation fuel

The flexJET project will validate a new integrated process which uses organic waste feed-stock to produce sustainable aviation fuel

In 2018 the U.S. Energy Innovation Administration (EIA) reported that the worldwide fuel consumption for commercial airlines exceeded 300 billion litres. To combat the environmental damage caused by aviation, researchers from the University of Birmingham are working together with UK and European partners on a process to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

FlexJET, a Horizon 2020 project, coordinated by the University of Birmingham, will validate a new integrated process which uses organic waste feed-stock for SAF production. This process offers improved sustainability and flexibility on current methods as feedstocks are processed near the source at a scale that matches the organic waste availability. This is the first technology to use green hydrogen from waste feedstock for fuel upgrading which consequently maximises greenhouse gas savings.

FlexJET

FlexJET will build a demonstration plant at pre-commercial scale to deliver high quality SAF. This project will provide clear technical and economic validation. The combination of regional and local supply and demand strategies in a circular economy delivers sustainable, cost-competitive aviation fuel. The flexJET process is highly scalable and less capital-intensive than current technologies, and can be integrated into the existing aviation infrastructure and supply chain. Furthermore, the flexJET process offers a solution that supports decarbonisation of the aviation transport sector, contributing to the Renewable Energy Directive Targets in Europe and the fulfilment of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation goals.

FlexJET’s innovative process combines SABR technology from Green Fuels Research which refines biodiesel from organic waste fats with the TCR® technology from Susteen Technologies. This TCR technology produces bio crude oil from organic solid waste which is subsequently upgraded into aviation fuel by hydro processing.

In terms of process, green hydrogen is separated from synthesis gas using a decentralised technology from Hygear. The non-food competing waste vegetable oils (cooking oils) are transformed into SAF in line with existing standards (ASTM D7566, Annex 2). Hydrogen from residual biomass conversion and renewable process energy is then used to enable a significant reduction in the remaining CO2 footprint of regular SAF. Following this, the SAF output will be increased by producing SAF through co-refining of organic waste fats with biocrude oil from food and market waste: the resulting novel SAF will be targeted for the ASTM approvals process.

Project Partners

The consortium brings together some of the most renowned scientific departments, applied research institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises in the renewable energy sector, particularly in terms of bioenergy studies and the development of relevant projects in Europe. Partners from 5 different European countries include: University of Birmingham (Project Coordinator), Sheffield University, WRG Europe Ltd, Green Fuels Research Ltd, University of Bologna, ETA-Florence Renewable Energies, Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Susteen Technologies, BIGA Energie GmbH, Hygear BV, SkyNRG and LEITAT. From 2018 until 2022, this conjoined effort will make use of the precious assistance of valuable experts. FlexJET has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 792216.

For further information, please contact:

Contact Point University of Birmingham: Dr. Miloud Ouadi, Principal Investigator, m.ouadi@bham.ac.uk

Dr Lais Galileu Speranza, Research Fellow, l.GalileuSperanza@bham.ac.uk

Professor Andreas Hornung, Chair in Bioenergy at University of Birmingham, andreas.hornung@umsicht.fraunhofer.de