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Airline inks $1B agreement for sustainable jet fuel derived from sewage

  • Airline inks $1B agreement for sustainable jet fuel derived from sewage
  • Firefly Green Fuels, dedicated to decarbonizing aviation, unveils plans for a groundbreaking facility to transform sewage sludge into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Firefly Green Fuels, a company committed to decarbonizing aviation, has announced plans to construct a pioneering facility to convert sewage sludge into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This innovative venture marks a significant stride in the quest for eco-friendly air travel.

Firefly Green Fuels has forged an agreement with Haltermann Carless, the owner of a specialist refinery site in Harwich where Firefly will soon build a pilot facility, followed by a planned first-of-a-kind commercial-scale plant shortly thereafter.  

Anglian Water will supply the requisite sewage sludge for the pilot plant, while Chevron Lumus Global, a leading provider of process plant technology, will furnish the necessary equipment for the refinery. Firefly Green Fuels has also signed an agreement with Wizz Air to buy fuel from the commercial plant in a deal that would be worth almost US$1bn over 15 years.

“The signing of these agreements marks a significant leap forward in realising our ambitions to develop a sustainable SAF industry here in the UK,” remarked James Hygate, Firefly’s CEO. “Opening up this new sewage pathway will bring new jobs and growth to the UK, helping us to secure a greener and more prosperous future.” 

Independent analysis by Cranfield University has shown that Firefly’s SAF offers a highly significant 92% CO2e saving versus fossil jet fuel

Independent analysis by Cranfield University has shown that Firefly’s SAF offers a highly significant 92% CO2e saving versus fossil jet fuel. However, The Chemical Engineer points out that it’s likely the sewage-to-SAF fuel would have to be blended with regular aviation fuel as present rules allow at most a 50% blend of fuel from fossil and sustainable sources.

The Chemical Engineer also highlights that there are currently seven authorised processing routes to SAF that can be used to fuel planes but sewage sludge, an abundant waste feedstock, is not one of them.

Amidst mounting pressure for environmental sustainability within the aviation sector, there is a notable surge in demand for more eco-friendly aviation fuel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports a projected global production volume of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the current year to hit 1.5 million tonnes, marking a fivefold increase compared to 2022.

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