Bin liner powered flights among sustainable aviation fuel grant winners

Five new UK-based projects have received a combined £165m in government funding in an effort to help the nascent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry take off.

The winners were announced late-December, with new production facilities now set to open across Britain which will create thousands of green jobs and slash the country’s carbon emissions by an average of 200,000 tonnes per year once operational.

black plastic bags on floor

Policymakers also argue these schemes, which build on the success of the Green Fuels, Green Skies programme, will play a part in the ongoing levelling up agenda. SAF plants in Teesside, Immingham and Ellesmere Port are among those confirmed to launch through the Advanced Fuel Fund, with all three set to focus on converting everyday household and commercial waste — including black bin bags — into a sustainable jet fuel.

Elsewhere, a Port Talbot site will transform steel mill off-gases into SAF, while another will employ carbon capture and use hydrogen made from renewable electricity in a bid to reduce emissions associated with air travel. Combined, the five new projects will produce 300,000 tonnes of SAF annually, which would be enough to power 60 return flights to the moon, offering an overall reduction in carbon emissions equivalent to removing 100,000 cars from the roads. 

‘Using waste or by-produce to refuel airliners sounds like a flight of fancy, but thanks to £165m of Government funding, it’s going to help us make guilt-free flying a reality,’ said Transport Secretary Mark Harper. ‘It’s exactly this kind of innovation that will help us create thousands of green jobs across the country to slash our carbon emissions. 

‘The Jet Zero Strategy was a real statement of intent from Government that aviation, without the carbon, is an achievable goal by 2050. This £165m 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,’ said Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK. 

The announcement comes just ahead of the world’s first net zero transatlantic flight taking off. Set to depart in 2023, one of Virgin Atlantic’s flagship Boeing 787 planes will make the journey from London Heathrow to New York John F Kennedy Airport to make history. Meanwhile, alongside the new SAF funding, an additional £1.2m is being made available to the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure fund to develop decarbonising technology for essential airport operations, including hydrogen refuelling. The fund was launched in 2021 with an initial budget of £3m. 

Last month, Air Quality News reported on research into a new magnesium and hydrogen based carbon neutral jet fuel by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Image: Jon Tyson



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