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Sustainable Jet Fuel from Flexible Waste Biomass

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GreenFlexJET (Sustainable Jet Fuel from Flexible Waste Biomass)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2022-01-31

The global airline sector, in the context of industry associations such as ICAO, has committed to binding minimum sustainability targets from 2026 onwards, with some airlines taking commitments from 2022. This will effectively establish renewable fuel blending requirements for the global aviation industry. Renewable fuel blending for jet fuel is regulated under ASTM D7566 containing detailed requirements regarding the marketing of jet fuel blends along with several annexes specifying certain types of renewable/synthetic jet fuel components which are permitted for use.
GreenFlexJET is building a pre-commercial demonstration plant for the production of advanced aviation biofuel (jet fuel) from waste vegetable oil and organic solid waste biomass, successfully demonstrating the SABR-TCR technology i.e. transesterification (TRANS), hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) and hydrocracking/isomerisation (HC) and Thermo-Catalytic Reforming (TCR) combined with hydrogen separation through pressure swing adsorption (PSA) to produce a fully equivalent jet fuel (compliant with ASTM D7566 Standards). This project will deliver respective environmental and social sustainability mapping and it will validate a comprehensive exploitation business plan. The project plant installed close to waste sources and product off-takers at Berkeley (UK) will produce 1,200 tonnes of jet fuel from 3,482 tonnes of dried organic waste and 3,600 tonnes of waste vegetable oil per year.
The primary ambition of this project is to demonstrate and validate the technical and economic viability of the integrated SABR-TCR technology approaches, together with their environmental and social sustainability, as well as the cost-competitiveness, at a commercial scale through the construction of a demonstrator that will also serve as an exemplar to facilitate rapid uptake and significantly de-risk subsequent commercial exploitation.
This project is designed to set the benchmark for future sustainable aviation fuel development and growth within Europe and will provide a real example to the rest of the world of how sustainable aviation biofuels can be produced at both large and decentralised scales economically whilst simultaneously addressing social and environmental needs.
Feedstock for TCR/PSA/HDO units has been investigated in terms of composition, mass, and energy balance for the design of the plant. As part of the development of the detailed technical design, bench-top and pilot-plant experiments were conducted. The basic and detailed engineering plans for the plant have been prepared. The design of the TCR/PSA/HDO technologies has been optimised to meet the necessities related to available feedstock. The gas treatment was optimised considering all emissions. Emissions will be reduced to environmental thresholds using a cyclone, a condenser, a scrubber, and EPSs.
Preparation of the site location in Berkeley started in RP2. The lease contract was agreed upon, and site groundworks were initiated. Planning for the relevant utilities for the demonstrator has been completed and construction for most of them is ongoing with the first equipment deliveries expected in summer 2022. The application for the needed permission for the plant has been prepared.
A revision of fuel off-takers was completed with ongoing optimisation of feedstock supply and blendstock. Initial agreements were obtained, and the Consortium is preparing a formal offtake agreement that will track the price of the UCO feedstock.
Work on evaluation of the consumer perceptions towards synthetic fuel products has started, including literature review and questionaries.
Work on Hazard Characterisation of the different hazardous chemical compounds at the different stages of the SABR-TCR process was initiated including identification of the most plausible hazardous components and exposure scenarios related to the production process of aviation fuel.
The LCA approach best suited to the integrated SABR-TCR technology was selected and the scope of the LCA was defined. Inputs and outputs from the SABR-TCR technology were mapped and quantified and alternative feedstock use scenarios were identified.
The environmental and health life cycle assessments for the integrated technology and alternative feedstock uses were initiated, including the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions savings for the integrated technology.
A range of market-relevant business scenarios is being explored, with the initial business plan for technology commercialisation almost completed.
Hazards linked to operational activities, supply chain, process and risk scenarios in business development were identified, and a mitigation strategy was prepared.
A Communication & Dissemination Plan has been prepared. Project branding materials, a project website as well and social media platforms have been established to raise awareness about GreenFlexJET activities.
The overall impact of the GreenFlexJET project has not changed since the start of the project. Also, the project targeted KPIs are not changed. The ambition to demonstrate the integrated SABR-TCR technology using waste biomass and waste vegetable oil is not changed and will show the production of 1,200 tonnes of aviation fuel at near commercial readiness level. The project will demonstrate the commercial availability of bio-jet fuel on a large scale, producing fossil jet fuel substitutes at a competitive cost.
The project will validate and demonstrate the combined technology of SABR and TCR at TRL-7 through the following actions:
• Demonstrate technical viability and cost-competitiveness of the production of aviation fuels by the validation of SABR-TCR technology through the deployment of an integrated plant combining the transesterification of waste vegetable oil with a TCR500 unit with pressure swing adsorption and hydroprocessing units for the production of jet fuel from organic waste.
• Validate logistical advantages through analysis of regional/local integrated supply and demand strategies and evaluate environmental and social sustainability of the integrated PSA/ SABR/TCR unit vs existing centralised petrochemical production methods.
• Facilitate the commercial availability and medium-term market penetration of advanced biofuels at a large scale, through the introduction of liquid biofuels (jet fuel) to existing markets, utilising current distribution infrastructures where possible and by developing robust business strategies based on market success factors quantified through this project.
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