Is bio-jet fuel a possibility in South Africa?

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A feasibility project is currently underway in South Africa to determine the viability of a waste-based jet fuel industry. The bio-jet fuel will be made from biomass and mixed with aviation fuel (avgas).There are currently five international airports around the world that supply bio-jet fuel and over 100 000 flights have been fuelled by the biomass and avgas mixture. This project, called Waste to Wing, will determine whether bio-jet fuel is a sustainable possibility in South Africa.

Waste to Wing bio-jet fuel project

The project began in January 2018 and is a collaboration between Cape Town-based enterprise development company Fetola, Amsterdam-based sustainable avgas specialists SkyNRG and the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF SA). The project is set to run until December 2020 and will identify possible issues and solutions for the bio-jet fuel production and supply chain. The knowledge gained and information ascertained will also be shared with other countries in Southern Africa so that the industry can expand beyond South Africa’s borders.“We already know that biomass is a technically feasible feedstock for the production of aviation fuel,” says WWF SA bioenergy programme manager Tjaša Bole-Rentel. “We want to prove with Waste to Wing that bio-jet fuel can be used economically in South Africa and, crucially, that this can be an inclusive value chain, offering a new market opportunity to small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs),” she says.

The bio-jet fuel project could make South Africa a leader

Waste to Wing will allow 25 SMMEs to supply bio-jet fuel to established aviation energy companies. These SMMEs will be given development support to ensure that they can participate in the sustainable aviation fuel sector.Bio-jet fuel produces fewer carbon emissions than regular aviation fuel. It is also more sustainable to produce as the biomass is essentially renewable. Bio-jet fuel is an untapped economy in Africa and if this project is a success, South Africa could lead the continent in the sustainable aviation fuel industry and create numerous jobs in rural areas where the biomass will be cultivated.The production and supply of bio-jet fuel will help South Africa in solving three major problems; the supply of energy, environmental support and an equitable economy. “WWF SA understands that it cannot practice nature conservation in isolation of the needs of the people. Integrating SMMEs into green value chains is a win-win for nature and communities,” explains Bole-Rentel.

South Africa is the perfect location for bio-jet fuel

South Africa is the ideal location for the Waste to Wing project as it already has the right infrastructure for the production of biofuel, which significantly reduces start-up costs for any bio-jet fuel project. South Africa also has large amounts of biomass in the form of invasive plant species, which can be used as a cheap and environmentally-sustainable feedstock.Another benefit that South Africa holds is the international aviation hub of O.R. Tambo International Airport. The potential client base for bio-jet fuel at the airport extends beyond local airlines and includes some of the top international airlines too.“If the Waste to Wing project is successful in achieving its proof of concept and its work leads to the continuous production of bio-jet fuel in South Africa, the country will become the first bio-jet fuel producer in Africa, and one of only a handful of States globally producing alternative fuel,” says Bole-Rentel.The success of the project means that South Africa could become the clean energy market leader for Africa. Another quality export product could be added to the list and potential investors could boost the economy. ___Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Throughgrowth,transformation andengagement, we strive to findnew ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.___By pairing international expertise withlocal insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers ofwaste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in therecycling, pipe inspection, CCTV,infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.___Follow usFacebook,Twitter andLinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See ourInstagram andYouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.