Solena, the company meant to be producing jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt

In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d  domestic waste into aviation fuel.  The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices.  BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport  – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions.  The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping.  Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena. 


Solena Fuels

Solena’s Integrated Biomass-Gas to Liquid “IBGTL” solution is based on a Fischer-Tropsch platform coupled with Solena’s proprietary high temperature plasma gasification technology to produce sustainable fuels from low carbon-bearing organic waste. Solena has developed best-of-breed relationships with world-leading technology and engineering companies to implement its IBGTL solution worldwide. As it addresses the substantial and rapidly growing demand for sustainable fuels at market prices for petroleum based fuels, Solena is considered a highly attractive solution and market leader in the sustainable synthetic fuels industry.

A unique characteristic of the IBGTL process is that it can handle a wide variety of feedstock and thus is completely “fuel flexible”. Unlike standard gasification technologies, Solena’s IBGTL process utilizes a powerful and independent heat source – plasma torches – and can thus accommodate varying heterogeneous feedstock. The company has several projects in development in India (highlighted above), and with Lufthansa, Qantas and Turkish Airlines.

The British Airways project. In 2010, British Airways announced its GreenSky London project — and in November 2012  the airline announced its binding offtake and investment commitment to GreenSky London. GreenSky London will transform tonnes of municipal waste – normally sent to landfills – into Bio-SPK, Green FT Diesel and Green FT Naphtha.

The chosen location for this innovative project is the Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex.  The site has excellent transport links and existing fuel storage facilities.  One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs.

This ground-breaking fuel project is set to revolutionise the production of sustainable aviation fuel.  Approximately 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration, will instead be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels using Solena’s innovative integrated technology.  British Airways has made a long-term commitment to purchase all 50,000 tonnes per annum of the jet fuel produced at market competitive rates.

In November 2013, Solena Fuels is in discussions with city authorities in Chennai to use the city’s 5,000 tons of MSW per day to produce 120 million liters of aviation biofuel and 45 million liters of diesel per year. The facility would cost $450 million to build with an eight year ROI. Solena’s technology is syngas-based using plasma reactors to treat the feedstock.

More on Solena.


Solena Fuels Corporation

Maryland Bankruptcy Court
Chapter 7   Case # 0:15-bk-24430
Filed Oct 16, 2015

1 Chapter 7 Voluntary Petition, Schedules A-J & Statement of Financial Affairs Fee Amount $ 335 filed by Steven H. Greenfeld of Cohen, Baldinger & Greenfeld, LLC on behalf of Solena Fuels Corporation. (Greenfeld, Steven)

British Airways is one of their creditors.



Velocys CEO suspended over allegations of ‘serious misconduct’

The government’s Aviation Policy Framework produced in March 2013 is keen on “sustainable biofuels” that do not have an ILUC impact (Indirect Land Use Change – ie competing with land for food etc) and cite the Solena and BA plan as a case study:

“Case Study: British Airways–Solena Greensky Low Carbon Fuels

British Airways is working with the US-based clean-tech company Solena Fuels
to develop Europe’s first waste-to-biojet fuel plant, the ‘Greensky’ project. This
first-of-a-kind facility, currently at the planning stage, will be constructed east of

The project will use high-temperature gasification to convert 500,000 tonnes
of low-value residual waste (i.e. material that is presently going to landfill) into
a renewable biosynthetic gas (or ‘BioSynGas’). The BioSynGas will then be
cleaned and passed through a Fischer-Tropsch unit to produce a biocrude fuel
to be upgraded into low carbon fuels yielding 50,000 tonnes each of biojet and
biodiesel and 20,000 tonnes of bionaphtha. The process will produce the
electricity required to power the plant, leaving approximately 11 MW net of
green renewable power to be exported to the grid.

Independent greenhouse gas life cycle analysis has confirmed that the process
will meet the sustainability standards required by the EU Renewable Energy
Directive and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. The sustainability
benefits of this fuel are wide ranging as using waste avoids the indirect land
use change impacts associated with many crop-based biofuels. In addition, the
fuels produced are very clean burning and provide air quality benefits as they
emit very low levels of particulates. The renewable naphtha can be used to
make renewable plastics or blended into transport fuels and the process also
produces a solid aggregate material that can be used in construction.”

Page 52 of


The DfT’s aviation forecasts produced in January 2013 state that:

“It is assumed that biofuels will account for 2.5% of fuel use on flights using UK airports by 2050 in the central forecasts. But there is significant uncertainty surrounding future biofuel prices.”

Page 41 of



The industry backed group, “Sustainable Aviation” has a lot of optimistic forecasts about how “green” the industry will become. Most are unrealistic.

It states:

“SA estimated that by 2050 sustainable fuels will offer between 15% and 24% reduction in CO2 emissions attributable to UK aviation. This assumption was based on a 25-40% penetration of sustainable fuels in to the global aviation fuel market, coupled with a 60% life-cycle CO2 saving per litre of fossil fuel displaced. For the purposes of our Road-Map, we assumed an 18% reduction in CO2 emissions from UK aviation through the use of sustainable fuels.”

Page 13 on


“Boeing’s goal is that by 2016, sustainable biofuel will meet 1 percent (600 million gallons) of global jet fuel demand, and we believe this goal can be met.”

“GreenSky London is British Airways flagship project to construct an advanced fuels facility that will convert around 500,000 tonnes of waste p.a. into a number of sustainable low-carbon fuels, including jet fuel. ”

“The British Airways and Solena partnership project represents a significant investment in new green technology in the UK. It will provide an innovative sustainable green energy and low-carbon fuel solution for the UK’s aviation sector. GreenSky London has signed an exclusive option on a site for the facility, and consent work for the site has begun. The facility will create over 150 operational jobs, and 1,000 construction positions. ”

“Boeing are working closely with their customers and stakeholders to meet their goal of sustainable biofuel serving at least 1% of global aviation fuel demand by 2016.”

” ….we now estimate that significant deployment of aviation biofuels in commercial flights will commence around 2015 rather than around 2020 as previously assumed.”

In a chart (Page 56 of their “Sustainable Aviation CO2 Road Map 2012”   at

they presume that biofuels will lead to cuts in global aviation emissions of 18% compared to 2000 by 2050.





Location just west of Canvey Island named as BA / Solena plant to make jet fuel from London urban waste

A site for the project, by BA and Solena, to convert landfill waste into jet fuel has finally been announced, after long delays. The site will be in the Thames Enterprise Park, a regeneration project just east of London on the Thames estuary (a few miles west of Canvey Island). The site includes the redundant former Coryton Oil Refinery. Work on building the GreenSky facility is expected to start in 2015 and be completed in 2017.  BA is providing construction capital and has committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA is hoping that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption will give it green credibility, and it will claim it cuts its carbon emissions.  In reality, if liquid fuels can be made from urban waste, there is no reason why aviation needs to be the user of them – especially as aviation intends to greatly increase its total fuel consumption in coming decades.  Liquid fuels that can genuinely be considered “sustainable” could be used by any other consumer.  If aviation appropriates these “sustainable” fuels, and uses increasing amounts of fuel, the net effect is that other users have to use high carbon fuels. No net benefit. Other than in (flimsy) green PR terms for BA.




British Airways + Solena plant to make jet fuel from London’s rubbish – announcement soon?

GreenAir online gives an update on the anticipated biofuel plant (costing around $500 million)  to be built in east London, to produce diesel and jet fuel.  GreenAir says that according to British Airways’ a 20-acre (8ha) site has been selected for its GreenSky project with Solena and an announcement is expected within weeks. Getting the required planning permission had proved “extremely challenging.”  GreenSky will convert around 600,000 tonnes of London  municipal waste into 50,000 tonnes of biojet and 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel annually, and will – they hope – meet BA’s total fuel needs at London City Airport.  BA hope they can claim annual carbon savings of up to 145,000 tonnes of CO2. “It’s very much a demonstration plant for us. If we can prove this works commercially then we will build a number of them in the UK – potentially up to six – at this scale or even bigger.”  “The economics is driven by a current UK landfill tax of about £80 per tonne, so the scheme hopes to get the rubbish cheaply – saving councils the landfill tax.  Under its 10-year contract with Solena, BA will purchase all the fuel produced by the plant. They hope to start building in early 2015 and start producing fuel in 2017.



British Airways pledges to buy Solena “GreenSky London” jet fuel made from London waste for 10 years – site location still not known

British Airways and Solena “GreenSky London”  say their project to build a jet biofuel facility in East London is gaining momentum. However, they won’t reveal the location of the plant but say an exclusive option on a site for the facility and consent work has begun, with the aim of having it operational and in production by 2015.  BA has confirmed its commitment to purchasing, at “market competitive” prices, the anticipated 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel produced per year for the next 10 years, which equates to around $500 million at today’s price for conventional jet kerosene.  BA expects enough of this fuel will be produced to power 2% of its fleet departing from London Airports.  GreenSky say it will process 500,000 tonnes of London’s waste into 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel, equating to 1,100 barrels of  jet fuel per day (bpd) which is 16 million gallons.  It will also process 50,000 tonnes, or 1,100 bpd, of ultra-low sulphur diesel.



Solena partnership with BA to produce jet fuel from London municipal waste – delayed over 2 years?

In 2010 it was announced that Solena and BA would build a plant to produce jet fuel in London. Solena hoped the new aviation fuel would be produced from several types of waste materials destined for landfill. The airline said it plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet beginning in 2014. In 2010 they said the self-contained plant will likely be built in east London. It’s expected to convert 551,000 tons of waste into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel each year. However, the timetable has slipped. There is no planning application yet.  It seems they hope for “notice to proceed” in 2013.  One website said the project will start in 2nd quarter of 2014 and end 2nd quarter 2016.  Oxford Catalysts were selected to supply the modular Fischer-Tropsch technology . There has been no planning application yet at Rainham Marshes. The timetable seems to have slipped by at least 27 months.



15 FEBRUARY 2010

British Airways set to produce jet fuel from waste

British Airways has teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which is set to turn domestic, agricultural and industrial waste into aviation fuel to help power the airline’s fleet.

The self-contained gasification plant, which is likely to be sited in east London, will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel. British Airways claims this volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all of its flights at London City Airport carbon-neutral.


The renewable fuel will be produced by feeding waste into a patented high temperature gasifier, producing BioSynGas. An established process known as Fischer Tropsch will then convert the gas into biojet fuel and bionaphtha – which is used as a blending component in petrol and also as a feedstock for the petrochemicals industry.

According to British Airways, the Fischer Tropsch process offers greenhouse gas savings of up to 95% compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.

The airline has confirmed that it aims to use waste with a high carbon biomass content – including domestic, agricultural and industrial waste – but added that other waste, including paper and food scraps, may also be used in the plant.

Four sites in the east of London are among those under consideration for the construction of the bio-jet fuel plant. Once a site has been chosen, British Airways will be entering into negotiations with waste companies and local authorities for the waste supply.

The partners also claim that the project will make further savings in greenhouse emissions by reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill, therefore avoiding production of methane, as well as significantly reducing local authority landfill tax bills.

British Airways calculates that the plant could save £36 million in landfill costs for local authorities by utilising 500,000 tonnes of biomass feedstock per year. This is based on local authorities paying the 2013/2014 landfill tax of £72 per tonne for the disposal of waste to landfill.

Solena Group Inc will be building the biomass plant and British Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase all of the fuel it produces.

It is hoped that the scheme will lead to the creation of up to 1,200 jobs in the chosen area and the plant is also expected to generate 20MW of excess renewable electricity a year for export to the national grid.


Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, said: “This unique partnership with Solena will pave the way for realising our ambitious goal of reducing net carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.

“We believe it will lead to the production of a real sustainable alternative to jet kerosene. We are absolutely determined to reduce our impact on climate change and are proud to lead the way on aviation’s environmental initiatives.”

Dr Robert Do, chairman and chief executive of the Solena Group, said: “The Solena – British Airways BioJetFuel project will efficiently convert biomass into clean renewable fuels and electricity and is completely carbon neutral.

“The plant will be a state-of-the-art renewable fuel manufacturing facility, distinct from a standard waste to energy incinerator facility. It will not produce any polluting emissions or undesirable by-products.”


The partners believe their project could help towards the Mayor of London’s “Foodwaste to Fuel Alliance” vision, set out last year, to speed up the development of infrastructure to convert London’s food waste into eco-fuel to cut landfill rates and carbon emissions (see story).

Commenting on the project, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I welcome this fantastic new ‘carbon lite’ fuel production facility in London.

“City Hall has been working with British Airways and Solena to drive this project forward to help untap the massive potential to generate cleaner, less polluting energy from waste, otherwise destined for landfill. We are working to bring together more organisations in this way to harvest the capital’s rubbish to fuel homes, businesses and even transport.”

Principal consultant

International consultancy, design, engineering and management services company ARCADIS has also announced today (February 15) that it has been given the role of principal consultant, advising on and managing the delivery of the project.

Stephen Didcott, managing director for ARCADIS in the UK, said: “The advanced biopower and biofuels processes now being developed will be fundamental in shaping the industrial sector of the future.

“Projects like this demonstrate that the technology is viable and the end results are extremely desirable and we are proud to be a part of this important development.”

ARCADIS is currently working on identifying potential sites for the new facility which will require approximately 20 acres of land.