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Plastic waste in aviation fuel takes off

Briton Jeremy Rowsell has flown a light aircraft from Sydney to Melbourne using fuel of which 10% came from plastic waste.

The ‘On Wings of Waste’ flight of 500 miles was carried out to prove that end-of-life plastic waste can be transformed into a viable alternative jet A1 fuel and can also be used for any diesel engines.

The fuel was produced by Plastic Energy in the UK, uses polymers heated in an oxygen-free environment to prevent them from burning, and then broken into their component hydrocarbons to create the equivalent of a petroleum distillate. This can then be separated into different fuels.

Plastic Energy bought the patented thermal anaerobic conversion technology from Cynar and recruited its specialists in March 2016 after the company ceased operations.

jeremy rowsell plastic fuel 2

jeremy rowsell plastic fuel 2

Rowsell, who is now an Australian resident, said: “After years of preparation and many ups and downs, we’ve finally shown that the eight million tonnes of plastic dumped into the oceans each year can be put to good use.”

Carlos Monreal, chief executive of Plastic Energy, said the flight showcased how plastic waste could be put to productive use.

A 747 aircraft on a 10,000-mile flight burns 36,000 gallons of fuel and 33% of airlines’ operating costs are spent on fuel. If 3,600 gallons of that fuel was sourced from plastic waste, it would be the equivalent of 18 tonnes of waste plastic.

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