Virgin Group plans to use low-carbon fuel made from plastic waste

Virgin Group has announced plans to source low-carbon fuel made from plastic waste for future flights.

In a bid to both tackle the problem of excess plastic and facilitate the use of fossil fuels in aviation, the company – which owns Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Orbit among others – has partnered with technology company Agilyx on the project, which aims “to research and develop low-carbon fuel plants to help combat plastic pollution and the global transition to net zero.”

Agilyx specializes in chemical conversion technology and aims to help the aviation world use plastics destined for landfill to create crude oil, from which low-carbon fuel can be made.

The move is part of the company’s broader goal of becoming net zero by 2050.

“We can’t keep wasting all this plastic, throwing it away, polluting our oceans…it’s a valuable material,” said Agilyx CEO Tim Stedman. AM City.

“The bottom line here is that this is an innovative and fast-paced project. We aim with Virgin to have real impact, at real scale, in this challenge we have with waste and the need to go to a low carbon economy and ultimately net zero,” he added.

“It’s very exciting, a first step in a journey that will really help us deliver from both angles.”

The first plastic-to-fuel manufacturing plant is set to open in the US, with a potential UK site to follow.

Only 9% of plastics are currently recycled, with the vast majority going to landfill.

It follows news last week that Virgin Atlantic has signed an agreement with Neste Oyi to supply 2.5 million liters of neat Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), to be delivered in the first half of 2022 to London Heathrow.

In September 2021, British Airways conducted its first flight using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The airline said the flight from London Heathrow to Glasgow demonstrated just how “aviation is decarbonising”.

Earlier in 2021, its parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), became the first European airline group to commit to fueling 10% of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

However, critics of SAF point out that it must be mixed with kerosene to be used for flights, and cause at least as many in-flight emissions.

The aviation industry has also encountered problems in developing this type of fuel for commercial purposes.

“With the best will in the world, scalability is a huge issue – because SAFs currently require a lot more money and resources to create than fossil fuels,” says The Independenttravel editor, Helen Coffey.

“And the ways in which you could rapidly scale up – for example, by annexing large tracts of land to grow unique, fast-growing crops – are a biodiversity nightmare and raise big red flags at a time when we need to be using the land to feed a growing population.

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