Image: © Chalabala / Adobe Stock
Wilson Bio-Chemical Ltd and HSSMI, two Midlands-based SMEs, are celebrating after securing specialist innovation funding to future-proof the production of greener jet fuel by using circular economy practices and aerospace industry derived waste as the primary feedstock to manufacture sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The UK’s ambition is to be at the forefront of SAF production and this new project, funded by the Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) programme, will support the long-term goal of the aviation industry – to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050. SAF is seen as a long-term decarbonisation solution for the aviation sector. However, it currently accounts for only <0.1% of global jet fuel usage, therefore the industry is keen to consider more radical and disruptive means of producing fuels.
What truly sets this project as a vanguard and differs from other sustainable fuel projects is that it will explore how bioethanol, produced from micro-organisms found in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), e.g. the contents of the average rubbish bin, can be used as a SAF. The project will also develop a unique process method and bio-chemical route to make bio-renewable jet fuel, diverting non-recyclable waste from landfills or incineration and converting it into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), thus providing a unique and genuine solution to environmental air transport issues.
This SAF project is led by Derbyshire-based biochemical technology providers Wilson Bio-Chemical Limited (WBC) who specialise in the design, manufacture and installation of sustainable energy plants. Founded in 2006, WBC has built its biofuel expertise and market position by developing jet fuel certification, sustainable waste stream practices and a unique circular economy framework to produce biogenetic feedstocks for SAF, with the help of grant funding from the Aerospace UP programme.
WBC has developed a patented chemical-recycling system to separate and homogenise the biogenic contents of commercially and industrially derived waste and convert it to platform chemicals to produce sustainable fuels. Life cycle assessments and aero engine performance analysis show that the Wilson System® significantly reduces emission profiles of aviation fuels by up to 95%. In this project, the WBC system will help turn bioethanol into a sustainable fuel for aviation.
HSSMI will work with WBC to create a circular economy framework for the project. Specifically, HSSMI will develop a waste hierarchy for the aviation sector; engage with the Midlands supply chain; forge links with airports, airlines, air freight forwarders and other industry forums to map and establish potential waste streams which could be used to produce bioethanol; and gather data on potential off takers and waste feedstocks generated by the industry.
Tom Wilson, Managing Director of Wilson Bio-Chemical, said “We’re delighted to be part of the Aerospace Unlocking Potential programme. The support provided by the technology development group for Midlands manufacturers and its engineering supply chain has been pivotal and given us great impetus. Their efforts in encouraging supply groups to work circularly at the concept and innovation stage of projects is visionary and has proved to be invaluable to a small and medium sized firm like ours. I would certainly encourage any other businesses to speak to the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance to learn about the support that is available to diversify through the Aerospace UP programme.”
Andrew Mair, Chief Executive of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, said “The aviation industry is committed to an industry-wide plan to reach net zero CO2 emissions including carbon-neutral growth and we’re delighted to provide support for Wilson Bio-Chemical’s project which demonstrates why the Midlands is such a great region for developing innovative solutions to global aerospace challenges.”
Axel Bindel, Executive Director for HSSMI, added “The SAF project will have a far-reaching impact, clearly demonstrating to businesses and the public the potential of new innovations and circular economy practices. This, in turn, will generate increased demand for engineering solutions and specialist consultancy throughout the Midlands aerospace supply chain. The SAF project will play a key role in helping the aerospace supply chain manage waste and prevent industry-derived waste from going to landfill or incineration. We’re delighted to be involved in this step-change project that will help decarbonise the aerospace industry and help reach net zero.”
Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) is a £20M three-year programme which aims to support the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands by helping to unlock its innovation potential. The programme is being delivered by the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance. Aerospace UP is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Midlands Aerospace Alliance is supporting the project to link up with the wider supply chain, including airports, airlines, fuel distributors and potential off-takers of the new bioethanol-based sustainable aviation fuel.
For questions on the SAF project, please contact Steve Massey, Technical Lead at HSSMI, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For circular economy support such as developing circular economy frameworks, launching new products or services, or industry-specific expertise, please contact Savina Venkova, Circular Economy Manager at HSSMI, at Savina.Venkova@hssmi.org.