The Anonymous Widower

Velocys Signs Agreement For Commercial-Scale Biomass-To-Jet Fuel In Japan

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Chemical Engineer.

I am very hopeful about Velocys, who are a UK public company, that were spun out of Oxford University and do clever things in the area of chemical catalysts.

Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch technology does seem to be a good way of creating sustainable aviation fuel from household rubbish and biomass.

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

British Airways Invests In LanzaJet; SAF Offtake Agreement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Green Car Congress.

This is the first paragraph.

British Airways will power future flights with sustainable aviation fuel produced from sustainably-sourced ethanol, as part of a new partnership with sustainable jet fuel company LanzaJet. British Airways will invest in LanzaJet’s first commercial-scale Freedom Pines Fuels facility in Georgia and acquire cleaner burning sustainable aviation fuel from the plant.

Other points from the article.

  • Flights using the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) could start in 2022.
  • LanzaJet have their own process that can use inputs like wheat straw and recycled pollution.
  • This agreement would be in addition to BA’s partnership with Velocys in the Altalto plant at Immingham.
  • British Airways also appear to have set themselves a target of being carbon net-zero by 2050.

The article is certainly on any list of must-reads.

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shell Withdraws From Waste To Jet Fuel Plant Project

The title of this post, is the same as that, of this article on Insider Media.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Oil giant Shell has withdrawn from the joint development agreement for a proposed facility for the conversion of waste into aviation fuel.

It would appear that the Altalto project will continue and has no likelihood of folding in the near future.

I like the idea behind Altalto, which will take household and industrial waste and turn it into sustainable aviation fuel and biodiesel.

But I also like Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process, which takes methane and effectively removes the carbon to create carbon-neutral hydrogen.

Conclusion

I feel the world is a big enough place for both technologies.

January 20, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today’s Rubbish, Tomorrow’s Jet Fuel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this feature article on Professional Engineering.

This is the opening paragraph.

One day, in the very near future, commercial aircraft will be fuelled by household rubbish. Yes, seriously.

It then goes on to describe the Velocys process for producing sustainable aviation fuel from household rubbish.

This paragraph explains, how it will change rubbish disposal.

Interestingly, Velocys won’t have to pay to obtain the waste. “We don’t buy it. We get paid to take it,” says Hargreaves. He explains how the supply chain starts with councils and businesses that are obliged to pay waste contractors to dispose of their waste. Those waste contractors then pay to incinerate the waste or send it to landfill sites. Velocys’s plant will simply act as an alternative disposal route.

The article is a very good explanation of one of the developments, that will shape the future of the world.

 

December 18, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Green Jet Fuel Plant Developers’ Ioy As World Economic Forum Backs Method As Best Aviation Solution

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Business Live.

This is the first paragraph.

The World Economic Forum has backed sustainable aviation fuel as the most promising decarbonation policy for aviation, delighting the developers of a £350 million refinery on the Humber.

I bet Velocys are delighted.

I also think, that, the biodiesel, that they can produce, is a short term solution to the decarbonisation of rail freight and the heaviest vehicles powered by diesel.

It’s so much better than throwing the rubbish into landfill.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Finance, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Microwaves Could Turn Plastic Waste Into Hydrogen Fuel

This headline from this article in The Times could be the headline of the day!

Although thinking about it, it wouldn’t be a good idea to put all your plastic waste in the microwave and switch it on. It might catch fire or even worse create lots of hydrogen in your kitchen, which could be followed by a mini-Hindenburg disaster in the kitchen.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

From the yellowed bottles in landfill to the jellyfish-like bags clogging the oceans, plastics pollution is an apparently intractable problem.

Yet, chemists lament, it shouldn’t be. Within this waste there is something extremely useful, if only we could access it: hydrogen. Now a British team of scientists believes it has found a way to get at it, and do so cheaply, thanks to tiny particles of iron and microwaves.

If their system works at scale they hope it could be a way of cheaply converting useless plastic into hydrogen fuel and carbon.

Don’t we all want to believe that this impossible dream could come true?

Some Background Information

Some of the things I talk  about will be technical, so I will have a bit of a preamble.

Hydrogen; Handling And Uses

Because of pre-World War Two airships, which tended to catch fire and/or crash, hydrogen has a bad reputation.

I used to work as an instrument engineer in a hydrogen plant around 1970. To the best of my knowledge the plant I worked  in is still producing  hydrogen in the same large building at Runcorn.

Hydrogen is one of those substances, that if you handle with care, it can be one of the most useful elements in the world.

It is a fuel that burns creating a lot of energy.

The only by-product of hydrogen combustion is steam.

It is one of the feedstocks for making all types of chemicals like ethylene, fertilisers, ammonia, pharmaceuticals and a wide range of hydrocarbons.

Hydrogen is a constituent of natural gas and in my youth, it was a constituent of town gas.

Hydrogen and hydrocarbons are involved in the manufacture of a lot of plastics.

In the future, hydrogen will have even more uses like making steel and cement, and powering railway trains and locomotives, and shipping of all sizes.

Hydrocarbons

According to Wikipedia, hydrocarbons are compounds consisting entirely of atoms of hydrogen and carbon.

In a kitchen, there are several hydrocarbons.

  • If you cook by gas, you will probably be burning natural gas, which is mainly methane, which is a hydrocarbon
  • Some might use propane on a barbecue, which is another hydrocarbon.
  • I suspect you have some polythene or polyethylene, to use the correct name, in your kitchen. This common plastic is chains of ethylene molecules. Ethylene is another hydrocarbon.
  • There will also be some polypropylene, which as the name suggests is made from another hydrocarbon; propylene.

Hydrocarbons are everywhere

Plastics

I used to work in two ICI divisions; Mond at Runcorn and Plastics at Welwyn Garden City

  • The forerunners of ICI Mond Division invented polyethylene and when I worked at Runcorn, I shared an office, with one of the guys, who had been involved before the Second World War. in the development of polyethylene.
  • Plastics Division used to make several plastics and I was involved in various aspects of research plant design and production.

One day, I’ll post in this blog, some of the more interesting and funnier stories.

Many plastics are made by joining together long chains of their constituent molecules or monomer.

  • Ethylene is the monomer for polyethylene.
  • Propylene is the monomer for polypropylene.
  • Vinyl chloride is the monomer for polyvinylchloride or PVC.

So how are the chains of molecules built?

  • Polyethylene was made by ICI. by applying large amounts of pressure to ethylene gas in the presence of a catalyst.
  • They used to make polypropylene in large reaction vessels filled with oil, using another catalyst.

I suspect both processes use large quantities of energy.

Catalysts

catalyst is a substance which increases the rate of a chemical reaction.

Judging by the number of times, I find new catalysts being involved in chemical reactions, the following could be true.

  • There are processes, where better catalysts can improve yields in the production of useful chemicals.
  • There is a lot of catalyst research going on.

Much of this research in the UK, appears to be going on at Oxford University. And successfully to boot!

Velocys

It should be noted that Velocys was spun out of Oxford University, a few years ago.

This infographic shows their process.

This could be a route to net-zero carbon aviation and heavy haulage.

The beauty is that there would need to be little modification to existing aircraft and trucks.

Oxford University’s Magic Process

These paragraphs from The Times article explain their process.

The clue came in research on particles of iron, and what happens when they get really small. “There’s a fascinating problem,” Professor Edwards said. “You take a bit of metal, and you break it into smaller and smaller bits. At what stage does it stop behaving like a copy of the bigger bit?”

When the particle gets below a critical size, it turns out it’s no longer a metal in the standard sense. The electrical conductivity plummets, and its ability to absorb microwaves does the reverse, increasing by ten orders of magnitude.

Professor Edwards realised that this could be useful. “When you turn on the microwaves, these things become little hotspots of heat,” he said. When he put them in a mix of milled-up plastic, he found that they broke the bonds between the hydrogen and carbon, without the expense and mess of also heating up the plastic itself.

What is left is hydrogen gas, which can be used for fuel, and lumps of carbon nanotubes, which Professor Edwards hopes might be of a high enough grade to have a use as well. The next stage is to work with industry to find ways to scale it up.

It sounds rather amazing.

Going Large!

This article from The Times on Friday, is entitled Plastic To Be Saved From Landfill By Revolutionary Recycling Plants.

These are the two introductory paragraphs.

Thousands of tonnes of plastic waste will be turned into new plastic in Britain rather than dumped in landfill sites, incinerated or sent overseas under plans for four new plants that will use cutting-edge recycling technology.

Up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic a year will be chemically transformed in the facilities, which are to be built in Teesside, the West Midlands and Perth.

It all sounds like technology, that can transform our use of plastics.

Conclusion

In the years since I left Liverpool University in 1968 with a degree in Electrical and control Engineering, it has sometimes seemed to me, that chemistry has been a partly neglected science.

It now seems to be coming to the fore strongly.

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Drax, Velocys Help Launch Coalition For Negative Emissions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Biomass Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

U.K.-based companies Drax Group and Velocys are among 11 organizations that have launched the Coalition for Negative Emissions, which aims to achieve a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 by developing pioneering projects that can remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere.

This paragraph details the companies and organisations involved.

In addition to Drax and Velocys, members of the coalition include Carbon Engineering, Carbon Removal Centre, CBI, Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Climeworks, Energy U.K., Heathrow, International Airlines Group, and the U.K. National Farmers Union.

They have sent a letter to the Government, which can be downloaded from the Drax website.

Conclusion

I have an open mind about biomass and products such as aviation biofuel and techniques such as carbon capture.

Keeping the wheels of commerce turning, needs a sustainable way to fly and ideas such as producing aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, could enable sustainable transport in the short term.

Carbon capture is very difficult in a lot of processes, but I feel that in some, such as a modern gas-turbine powered station, if they are designed in an innovative manner, they an be made to deliver a pure stream of the gas. A pure gas must be easier to handle, than one contaminated with all sorts of unknowns, as you might get from burning some sources of coal.

I am pleased that the National Farmers Union is involved as using pure carbon dioxide, as a growth promoter for greenhouse crops is a proven use for carbon dioxide.

Overall, I am optimistic about the formation of the Coalition for Negative Emissions.

 

October 14, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Sustainable Aviation Fuels For A Net-Zero Future

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Airport Technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

In June, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced the creation of the Jet Zero Council, which aims to make zero-carbon transatlantic flights a reality within a generation. Dr Neville Hargreaves, vice president at sustainable fuels technology company Velocys and a member of the Jet Zero coalition, explains more.

This paragraph gives a timescale.

“People may think achieving net-zero emissions on long-haul flights, from London to New York on a Dreamliner say, is decades away – it isn’t,” he adds. “We can achieve this in the next five-ten years.”

II suspect, that if all goes well, Dr. Hargreaves is right.

Read the article to find out how Velocys intend to achieve this aim.

 

September 25, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Velocys Delivers 4 FT Reactors To Red Rock Biofuels In Oregon

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Biodiesel Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Velocys plc has completed manufacturing and delivery of four of its Fischer-Tropsch reactors to Red Rock Biofuels. Red Rock Biofuels plans to convert 136,000 tons of waste woody biomass into more than 15 MMgy of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel and naphtha fuels in Lakeview, Oregon.

It would appear that MMgy is million million (billion) gallons per year, which I assume are US gallons. Why can’t they use litres, tonnes or Olympic swimming pools, like everybody else?

It appears 15 billion US gallons per year is 56.8 million Olympic swimming pools per year!

This page on US Energy Information, which is entitled Diesel Fuel Explained, says this.

In 2019, distillate fuel (essentially diesel fuel) consumption by the U.S. transportation sector was about 47.2 billion gallons (1.1 billion barrels). This amount accounted for 15% of total U.S. petroleum consumption and, on an energy content basis, for about 23% of total energy consumption by the transportation sector.

If I haven’t got my millions and billions mixed up, that is an awful lot of diesel.

Especially, to be produced from woody biomass from reactors designed and built by a company spun out of Oxford University.

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , | Leave a comment

Can A Green Revolution Really Save Britain’s Crisis-Stricken Aerospace Industry?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Telegraph.

This is the sub-title.

The Prime Minister has set a challenging target of green flights within a generation, but is it a sustainable plan?

I have read the whole article, which is mainly about Velocys and their project at Immingham to create aviation biofuel from household rubbish.

They say the main problem is scaling up the process to get enough jet fuel. When I was working at ICI in the early 1970s, modelling chemical processes, scale-up always loomed-large as a problem.

Nothing changes!

I think we’ll get to our carbon-neutral objective, for aviation, but it will be a mixture of things.

  • Aviation biofuel.
  • All-electric airports.
  • Efficient aerodynamics and engines.
  • Electric short-haul aircraft.
  • Rail substitution for short flights.

Traditional aerospace must reform itself or die!

As to Velocys, they must solve their scaleup problem, so that all suitable household and industrial rubbish ends up doing something more useful, than beinmg incinerated or nuried in landfill.

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment