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Two East London councils are already aware of plans for BA Solena bio-jet fuel plant

The first plant in Europe to produce jet fuel from waste material will be built in East London and could drastically reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill by surrounding boroughs, a spokesman for British Airways has told MRW.

British Airways has signed an agreement with the US firm that owns the technology, Solena Group, to build the Carbon Reclamation & Conditioning Plant and purchase all the fuel produced by the plant to power its fleet at London City Airport. British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said: We believe it will lead to the production of a real sustainable alternative to jet keroseneand are proud to lead the way on aviations environmental initiatives. 

Using plasma gasification technology, the plant - due to begin producing bio-jet fuel from 2014 - will be able to process all types of biomass and residual feedstock converting 500,000 tonnes of waste each year into 16 million gallons of green aviation fuel.  This will divert the companys waste at London City Airport away from landfill and also save nearby local authorities around £36m in landfill tax.

Four sites in the east of London are currently being considered for the plant which will require at least 20 acres of land and good transport links to maintain a consistent stream of waste.  Among these, disused brown-field sites are also being considered. MRW understands a possible location could be the lower lea valley area, a sizable 1,500 acre brown-field site currently being developed to house the 2012 Olympics games and Stratford City developments, which will return to the ownership of the London Development Agency for planned and sustainable disposal after the games. 

MRW made enquiries to all east London local authorities and only Waltham Forest and Hackney councils expressed an initial awareness of the planned facility.  Hackney councillor Alain Laing said: "The plan to turn a variety of waste materials into aviation fuel is a great prospect that could benefit Hackney in the longer term by providing an innovative and sustainable alternative to existing waste treatment processes."

A Newham council spokesman said: Newham Council would welcome any development in East London that reduces carbon emissions and creates jobs for local people. We're awaiting further detail on the project and potential sites before making any further comment. 

Tower Hamlets council confirmed the plant would not be sited in the borough but stated it aimed to maintain discussions with the project developers.  Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: I welcome this new carbon-lite fuel production facility in London.  City Hall has been working with British Airways and Solena to drive this project forward to help untap the massive potential to generate cleaner, less polluting energy from waste, otherwise destined for landfill.

The process involves feeding the waste into a high temperature gasifier, producing BioSynGas.  The established procedure known as Fischer Tropsch uses various chemical reactions to convert the gas into liquid to produce bio-jet fuel.  The gas will also generate 20MW of electricity for export to national grid or be converted into steam to heat the surrounding district. 

According to Solena, the environmentally benign process only produces a solid slag material that can be used as a construction aggregate. Solena Group chairman and chief executive Robert Do said: The plant will be a state-of-the-art renewable fuel manufacturing facility, distinct from a standard waste to energy incinerator facility.  It will not produce any polluting emissions or undesirable by-products.


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