A collaboration between British Airways, Shell and Velocys

We are developing plans to build the first commercial scale waste-to-transport-fuels plant in the UK, subject to planning and final investment decisions.

We combine proven technologies in a new way, to deliver a cost-effective and sustainable supply of renewable fuels. These products are needed in order to reduce the climate change impact of travel; particularly long-haul air travel, which is likely to rely on liquid fuels for years to come.

What we plan to do

We plan to build the UK’s first commercial plant to make jet fuel from household and office waste.

The basic concept of converting solids into liquid fuels using this route has been in industrial use for decades. We have modified the process to make it suitable for the production of jet fuel and other transport fuel from waste. Our proposed plant will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year of household and office waste left over after recycling, and convert it into clean burning, sustainable fuels for aviation and road use. Otherwise this waste would end up in landfill, or be incinerated.

The plant’s main product will be Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK), which is approved worldwide for commercial aviation at up to 50% in a blend with conventional jet fuel. The other product is naphtha, a constituent of petrol, which will help to reduce the net CO2 emissions of road users.

Why do it?

Our fuel will have 70% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional jet fuel. It also reduces exhaust pollutants – in some cases by 90%.

Aviation accounts for around 2% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and passenger numbers are growing rapidly. Aviation is now part of a new global climate regulation, the first of its kind for any global industry, and this means the market for sustainable aviation fuels will grow in the future.

Altalto’s sustainable jet fuel will help society to continue to get the benefits of air travel whilst reducing our impact on the environment, reducing harmful emissions, and dealing with wastes that cannot be recycled effectively.

But it’s not only in aviation where Altalto can make a difference – some of our production will also be blended into petrol, helping to lower the carbon footprint of car travel.

70%
reduction in greenhouse gases compared to conventional jet fuel
90%
reduction in particulate matter from engine exhausts
500K
tonnes of waste diverted from landfill or incineration

The annual production of fuels at the plant would result in a net reduction of CO2 equivalent to taking 35,000 cars off the road.

In addition, the plant will prevent fugitive methane emissions (the irregular emissions of methane from landfill sites as biogenic material decomposes). For each tonne of biogenic waste that goes to landfill, 0.5 tonne CO2 equivalent would be emitted. Avoiding over 500,000 tonnes/year of non-recyclable waste going to landfill is equivalent to taking a further 50,000 cars off the road.

Who are we?

Altalto is derived from the Latin, ‘Altus’ meaning ‘high’ and ‘Alter’ meaning ‘other’ in recognition of the alternative aviation fuels we will be making.

British Airways intends to use jet fuel from the plant in its aircraft. The project forms part of the airline’s goal to develop long-term, sustainable fuel options that will help power its aircraft for years to come. This will contribute to its commitment to reduce net carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.

Shell intends to purchase both jet fuel and road fuel from Altalto, which will then be blended and sold to Shell’s customers, helping to reduce their carbon footprint. Shell will also provide technical expertise, based on its long experience of gasification and Fischer Tropsch. This is part of Shell’s New Energies portfolio.

Velocys is leading the development of the Altalto Immingham project and assembling all the technology components into an integrated design. Velocys also supplies one of these components: the crucial Fischer-Tropsch technology, the part of the plant that turns synthesis gas into the hydrocarbons required to create the sustainable fuels.

To find out more about Velocys, visit our website.