By the end of 2015, all British Airways flights out of London City Airport will be fuelled by rubbish — the paper, food scraps, garden clippings and other organic detritus discarded by the city's residents. But before it goes into planes, the rubbish will be processed at GreenSky London: a biofuels plant under construction on the eastern side of the city. Each year, the facility will take in some 500,000 tonnes of the city's waste and will transform the organic component into 60,000 tonnes of jet fuel, a similar quantity of diesel fuel combined with petrol-like naphtha, and 40 megawatts of power. This level of output would hardly be noticed at conventional petroleum refineries, which typically generate a similar volume of product within a week. But “gathering enough biomass to run a petroleum-scale refinery is almost unthinkable”, says Nathanael Greene, director of renewable-energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City. GreenSky London is typical of a trend for second-generation biofuel reactors that are not only omnivorous — they can be fed with corn stalks, wood chips and other forms of agricultural waste, as well as urban rubbish — but also small. The hope is
Nature – Nature Publishing Group (NPG)
Published: Apr 23, 2014
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