A group of British businesses is to pioneer the development of a process to turn municipal and wood waste into transport biofuel which could potentially achieve a carbon saving of 95%.
The consortium, led by Axion Energy, has been put together by The Carbon Trust and will work on an enhancement of the pyrolysis process which will turn waste biomass into a cheaper alternative to existing biofuels.
One of the main advantages of such a process is that it uses existing organic waste and can lead to even greater carbon savings by avoiding methane emissions associated with landfill.
The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation currently sets out that UK forecourt petrol and diesel must include a 3.25% blend of biofuel and this figure is expected to rise to 10% by 2020. Developing an advanced pyrolysis process could help with meeting these targets.
The Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay said: Genuinely sustainable biofuels will be critical to help reduce the UKs transport emissions.
In just a few years pyrolysis could change the way in which we produce biofuels and by 2020 be a commercially viable option.
The aim of the consortium is to produce its first biofuel from a pilot plant in 2014 which will produce 250kg an hour and there is potential to scale up production to two million tonnes per year using UK biomass alone.
Carbon Trust research and development manager Dr David Penfold said: The consortium has a capability to develop one of the cheapest and lowest carbon biofuels and if the technology development works we can produce a 95% carbon saving compared to other fossil fuels.
The Carbon Trust is investing £7 million into the consortium over the next three to four years using funding from the Department for Transport and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.