• Ron Kotrba

Green Fuels among select group of 8 companies shortlisted by UK govt. for SAF funding

Image: Green Fuels

Green Fuels Research announced July 26 it is one of the eight companies shortlisted by the U.K. government to receive a share of the £15 million (USD$20.7 million) being awarded by the Department for Transport’s Green Fuels, Green Skies competition. Although the final confirmation of grant awards has not been given yet, Green Fuels Research’s Firefly project—a joint endeavor between Green Fuels Research, Petrofac and Cranfield University—is among a select group of candidates likely to receive funding under the program.

Firefly will demonstrate an integrated technology pathway to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using sewage sludge as feedstock. The project, according to Green Fuels, encompasses engineering design and construction of a demonstration plant in Berkeley, U.K. The hope is this will lead to a first-of-a-kind commercial refinery and roll-out to several U.K. locations where airports, pipeline terminals and wastewater treatment works are in close proximity. Approximately 53 million metric tons of raw sewage sludge is collected annually from about 8,500 wastewater treatment facilities throughout the U.K.

“We’re delighted to have this opportunity to prove the environmental and commercial viability of the Firefly route, which integrates several existing technologies into a sustainable industrial process,” said Green Fuels CEO James Hygate. “Among many advantages, Firefly will use fully biogenic feedstock which will emit no fossil carbon, won’t contribute to deforestation or compete with food production and will not rely on imports with long, high-emission supply chains.”

Perhaps most importantly, the project is expected to demonstrate “exceptional carbon savings,” Hygate said. “The challenge with aviation, especially beyond short-haul flights and light aircraft, is that today’s batteries simply do not offer enough energy density to fly from A to B without the aircraft having to carry an enormous weight just in batteries.”

Liquid hydrocarbon fuels are the only realistic option to decarbonize aviation, Hygate said. “The good news is that we have several routes already available, and our Firefly project will add another,” he said. “What we need is a strong mandate encouraging the use of sustainable aviation fuels.”

John Pearson, chief operating officer of Petrofac, said, “The U.K. has the third-largest aviation network in the world. As a key component of the economy, providing sustainable aviation fuels is one of the main pathways to help the U.K. achieve net zero targets. By designing this initial demonstration plant, we hope that together with Green Fuels and their partners, we can demonstrate a commercially viable and scalable route for future projects that will enable the aviation sector to decarbonize.”

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