First commercial flight in the world powered by wood chip thanks to Oxford tech company

Velocys

Velocys plc, the Oxford-based sustainable fuels technology company, has announced that sustainable aviation fuel produced by the company’s proprietary technology using woody biomass residue feedstock has been used in a commercial flight by Japan Airlines.

Japan Airlines flight (JAL #515) from Tokyo to Sapporo was completed on 17 June 2021.

The news comes after the company signed a collaboration agreement with Toyo Engineering Corporation (Toyo) in February to begin development of commercial projects to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and other renewable fuels in Japan using Velocys micro-channel FT technology.

The flight is the first commercial flight in the world to use SAF derived from gasified wood-chips synthesised into aviation fuel. The fuel was produced in a Velocys FT reactor from the hydrogen and carbon gases generated by the gasification of the wood-chips at the demonstration plant in Nagoya in 2020.  This facility produced 2,366L of neat aviation fuel blendstock which was tested to ensure that it met the required international standard, ASTM D7566 Annex1.  SAF that meets this specification can be blended into conventional jet fuel at any ratio from a small fraction up to 50%. 

Henrik Wareborn, CEO of Velocys, said: “Velocys is pleased to announce the validation of SAF derived from woody biomass as evidenced by the use of 25% SAF blend in this first in the world commercial flight using wood-chips derived jet fuel. 

“SAF synthesised with the Velocys FT technology from gasified forestry residue has a 70% lower Carbon Intensity than conventional fossil jet fuel. In addition, FT-SAF offers significant additional air quality improvements thanks to 90% lower particulate emissions, 99% lower Sulphur emissions and lower Nitrogen oxide emissions than conventional fossil fuels.”

 Haruo Nagamatsu, CEO of TOYO, said:The Velocys technology demonstrated high efficiency and stable performance at the NEDO pilot plant, and contributed to the production of high-quality SAF, green naphtha and green diesel.”