Have you seen Back to the Future Part II? Of course you have, it’s a classic. A flying DeLorean that can travel through time and runs on everyday household waste rather than plutonium? Man, sign us up for a couple of those bad boys.
The reason we ask is because the Green Sky project plans to make planes fly using little more than everyday scraps. Granted, we’re talking about post-recycled waste here (it’s not as simple as stuffing a load of mouldy bread crusts and milk bottle caps into the jet’s fuel tanks), but that’s still a lot easier to get your hands on than who-knows-how-much petroleum. Quick fact: A Boeing 747 uses about one gallon (four litres) of fuel every single second. Ever taken a flight to America, or Australia? That’s one heck of a lot of internal combustion liquid being consumed; surely it’s a no-brainer that it would be more environmentally friendly to use eggshells and banana skins?
Anyhoo, a former oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex, will house the Green Sky project, which is currently being built and planned to open in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs. Around 575,000 tonnes of processed waste will be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels, which is far more useful than it being sent to landfill sites or, even worse, incinerated.
Still not sure? Think it’s an April Fool’s prank that we forgot to post? Well, British Airways have agreed to buy 50,000 tonnes a year of this specially created jet fuel, so you may well find yourself on a Green Sky flight the next time you take a family holiday to Orlando, a messy lads’ tour to Ayia Napa, or even a quick business trip from London to Edinburgh and back.
This sustainable product will not only prevent large amounts of waste from being… well… wasted, it will also prove a sustainable and comparatively clean form of fuel, significantly reducing carbon emissions whilst helping recycling figures to climb almost as high as the jets.
Here’s the science: High temperature plasma gasification technology will turn the waste into synthetic gas and then into liquid hydrocarbons. Simples. *squeak*
This isn’t a gimmick, as airlines from all over the world are set to meet at the 2014 Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva at the end of April, and experts hope that this project will revolutionise the production of sustainable aviation fuel.
Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, said: “The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over, with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.”
That doesn’t mean you can start driving absolutely everywhere though from 2017; it’s still good to get some fresh air and exercise when you need some milk and the morning paper from the nearby corner shop. And whilst you’re doing so, look up if you hear a plane, because it could well be fuelled by last week’s leftovers.