BP licenses new waste to energy technology for biojet fuel

Biojet fuel company Fulcrum plans to open a waste to energy facility in the US that will convert municipal waste into a low carbon, renewable jet fuel.

Biojet fuel company Fulcrum plans to open a waste to energy facility in the US that will convert municipal waste into a low carbon, renewable jet fuel.

The facility will use research developed by oil and gas company BP and chemical company Johnson Matthey (JM), which convert synthesis gas generated from municipal solid waste into long-chain hydrocarbon molecules that make up diesel and jet fuels.

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Fulcrum has secured the license to the technology and expects to convert 159,000 tonnes of municipal waste into 41.6 million litres of fuel each year, the equivalent of more than 180 return flights between London and New York.

BP’s head of group research Angelo Amorelli said BP first became interested in the technology, called Fischer-Tropsch (FT), in the 1980s while looking to turn gas into liquid fuel.

“The breakthrough came five or so years ago, when we started to explore the potential for our FT process to turn biomass into fuels,” Mr Amorelli said.

He explains that JM redesigned the reactors which looked like baked beans cans filled with the catalyst, creating ‘cans tech’.

”BP then changed the recipe for the catalyst and, by combining that with the’ baked beans’ reactors, we trebled the productivity and halved the cost of building the technology compared to traditional FT reactors,” he said.

Image Credit: BP

Australian student’s prawn shell plastic goes global

An Australian student’s bioplastic innovation has gone global and will be representing Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Angelina Arora started investigating bioplastics when she 15 after she was inspired by being asked to pay for a plastic bag at a shop. It prompted her to think of a way people could still have the convenience of plastic without the harmful environmental effects.

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She will represent Australia alongside over 1,800 high school students from 75 countries, regions, and territories in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

After she became a finalist in the 2017 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering awards for her research into the commercial viability of bioplastics, she began to work closely with a CSIRO mentor to develop a completely biodegradable plastic made from prawn shell and sticky protein from silkworm silk.

“I’m driven by wanting to help – whether it’s people, the environment or animals. It was amazing after months of research that I found a plastic that was suitable,” Ms Arora said.

“I was always a curious child asking why things work and this developed into a love of science. I believe science is the key to all the worlds’ mysteries.

“I couldn’t imagine a future where it isn’t part of my life. I think I’d like to go into medicine as it is all about helping people,” she said.

CSIRO Education and Outreach Director Mary Mulcahy said showcasing Australia’s brilliant science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects on the world stage was a key part in enabling Australia to adapt for a rapidly changing future.

“The world is changing faster than many of us can keep up with, but science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) can guide that future through innovation,” Ms Mulcahy said.

“These students are showing on a world stage that Australian students are prepared more than ever for the future.”

Pictured: Angelina Arora. Source: CSIRO

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