Qantas may build a jet biofuel plant in Sydney

Steve Creedy, Aviation writer | From:The Australian | January 03, 2011 11:51AM

Qantas BA

A Qantas jet takes off across the tail of a British Airways aircraft at Sydney airport. Picture: AP Source: The Australian

QANTAS will team with Solena Fuels to investigate the feasibility of constructing the world’s second commercial jet biofuel plant in Sydney.

The joint-venture will aim to convert commercial waste to biofuel using a $300 million plant based on the Fischer-Tropsch process already approved to produce jet fuel from coal in South Africa and gas in Qatar.

A similar plant is being built by British Airways in London.

Due to come on line in 2014, the British Airways plant will convert up to 500,000 tonnes of waste a year into 73 million litres of “green” jet fuel, which is enough to power 2 per cent of BA’s Heathrow base.

It will use food scraps and other household material, such as grass and tree cuttings, as well as agricultural and industrial waste, as a feedstock for the fuel.

Qantas has had a long-standing interest in biofuels and is a member of the global Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group.

Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said the airline was closely involved with other industry stakeholders in a “road map” study into the outlook for sustainable aviation fuel development in Australia.

“We are also in discussions with a number of companies about specific fuel-producing technologies,” she said.

“Under an agreement with Solena Fuels, we have committed to investigate the feasibility of a waste-based aviation fuel production plant in Australia.

“We expect to produce a business case for such a plant within 12 months. While we are still in the early stages of this project, the possibilities are exciting.”

Solena Fuels is a US-based fuel supplier.