Waste-to-jet-fuel project drops chemical production element

Netherlands: Under-development facility is being “repurposed” to focus on aviation post-covid and could be operational between 2025 and 2026

An artist's impression of the plant
An artist's impression of the plant

The partners behind a Rotterdam-based waste-to-jet-fuel plant have decided to drop the production of chemicals for the development and pivot to focus entirely on producing aviation fuel.

Enerkem and Shell confirmed the move in a statement yesterday, saying the facility would produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which they said was “fundamental to reducing the aviation industry’s life-cycle carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional fuel”.

When the project was first revealed in 2016 it was referred to only as a waste-to-chemical facility. 

However, in 2019 when oil-giant shell came on board, the project had developed into a production facility for “chemicals and biofuels out of non-recyclable waste materials”.

Shell dropped out of a UK-based waste-to-aviation fuel project in January saying at the time “it was “pursuing multiple opportunities across our global portfolio... [and] decided to focus our resources on other lower-carbon fuels opportunities which leverage our own technology”.

Other partners in the development include Air Liquide, AkzoNobel and the Port of Rotterdam. 

According to the latest statement, the facility would be able process up to 360,000 tonnes a year of “recycling rejects” and produce up to 80,000t/yr of which about 75% “could be SAF” with the remainder “used for road fuels or to feed circular chemicals production”.

The move to SAF is supported through “favourable” and “expected” renewable transport fuels regulations, according to the statement. 

The plant will also combine Enerkem’s waste gasification technology and Shell’s Fischer-Tropsch technology for SAF production. 

According to the statement, the partners are now “looking to submit” a permit application for the updated project by the end of this year. 

Should permitting go to plan and a final investment decision back the project, a three-year build time could see operations beginning in either 2025 or 2026, according to the statement.

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