10 April 2024

Trash Talking: Municipal Solid Waste as a Feedstock for SAF

Trash Talking: Municipal Solid Waste as a Feedstock for SAF

Avioxx marked their industry event debut in February at the SAF Investor London conference where Chairman Dr. Mike Hancock delivered compelling insights about household waste and its application as a feedstock for SAF.

The panel discussion, aptly titled ‘Trash Talking: Municipal Waste’ offered an array of perspectives from both the production side and end customer side of the SAF supply chain with representation from Air Alaska by Diana Birkett Rakow, SVP, Public Affairs & Sustainability, and Alfanar Projects by Norman Al Adhami, UK Country Head.

Moderator Wayne Hitchings, Senior Manager of Sustainability Services at Accenture, remarked, “I never thought I would be in a room with so many people talking about rubbish,” but municipal solid waste (MSW) is an important topic that has not received the attention it deserves.

The UK sends 14 Mt of waste to landfill per year and incinerates about 12.5 Mt per year across 57 incineration plants. What’s more, nearly 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste is sent overseas. Dr. Hancock highlighted that waste management is a major problem in the UK that needs to be addressed. By taking all this waste and turning it into jet fuel, we avoid carbon emissions from harmful waste disposal practices and avoid even further emissions by displacing the use of new fossil fuels in planes.

The panelists all agreed that the low cost and abundance of MSW make it an attractive feedstock for SAF production compared to the limited availability of used cooking oils, biomass or other feedstocks. However, there are inherent challenges to converting everyday household waste into fuel.

Al Adhami notes that Gasification Fischer-Tropsch technology for SAF production is not new, but using waste as a feedstock is a new application that needs further research and development. The main challenge is that MSW is intrinsically heterogeneous, containing anything from used napkins to plastic wrappers to beverage cans to rubber gloves. Dr. Hancock explains that the miscellaneous nature of waste means that it must first be sorted to remove non-carbon containing materials then pre-treated to form a solid mass that is compatible with the gasification reactor, for example uniform pellets or sheets.

Sorting and pre-processing are vital steps to ensure the technology can perform consistently despite the variability of household waste, and Birkett Rakow adds that for airlines, it is important to understand the exact content of the feedstock for an accurate lifecycle assessment of the SAF that is produced.

Trash Talking: Municipal Solid Waste as a Feedstock for SAF

MSW serves as a key feedstock for sustainable fuels, and this discussion provided an insightful overview of significant themes around this topic. The session was met with positive reviews from the audience, and live polling showed that over half of the participants were optimistic about SAF from municipal waste.

Watch the full panel discussion from the SAF Investor conference on the SAF Investor website. If you are interested in learning more about Avioxx and our technology, please get in touch at info@avioxx.com.