Solena agrees technology pact for London biofuel plant

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Synthetic fuels producer Rentech has signed a letter of intent with US bioenergy group Solena to provide its Fischer-Tropsch technology for use at Solena's planned sustainable jet fuel plant in east London.

The plant, which aims to become the first commercial scale sustainable jet fuel facility in Europe, will convert waste biomass that would otherwise have gone to landfill into a gas which is then turned into liquid biofuel through the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Earlier this year, British Airways signed a letter of intent to purchase all of the plant's fuel, which it plans to use on part of its fleet from 2014.

The facility, named GreenSky, will convert more than 500,000t of waste biomass feedstock into synthesis gas each year using Solena's plasma gasification technology, BioSynGas. This gas will then be processed by Rentech's Fischer-Tropsch technology into 60.6 million litres (16 million USgal) of sustainable synthetic jet fuel.

Rentech has completed a preliminary engineering study to help facilitate the integration of its Fischer-Tropsch process into the Solena project.

"Rentech's iron-based catalyst Fischer-Tropsch process is an ideal fit for Solena's proprietary gasification solution," says Solena chief executive Robert Do. "Bringing the two technologies together will allow us to create a truly sustainable drop-in jet fuel with the potential to transform the aviation industry."

Solena says it has identified potential sites for the facility in east London, and is in discussions with investors to finance the project.

It aims to begin construction in 2012 and the facility is scheduled to become operational in 2014.