A feasibility study on sustainable alternative fuels for aviation has concluded that synthetic fuel made from biomass offers a sustainable means for the global aviation industry to cut emissions in the future. Synthetic fuel made from natural gas and coal is already used in aircraft flying out of Qatar.
This conclusion was part of a study carried out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Union and the findings were presented to an industry audience in Trinidad and Tobago on the 20th April.
As the company building the first commercial-scale Gas to Liquids (GTL) plant in the Western Hemisphere, NiQuan Energy participated in the study in order to share its expertise regarding the development of synthetic fuel projects and products. NiQuan also made a presentation during the meeting to brief the audience on the development of synthetic fuel in Trinidad and the progress of the NiQUAN GTL plant at Pointe-a-Pierre, as well as reviewing the technology and giving an assessment of the potential for future growth.
GTL is a clean, high performance, low emissions fuel but Biomass to Liquids (BTL) improves emissions even more, particularly in terms of CO2, and it uses renewable resources. In terms of both fuel quality and impact, like GTL, BTL is good news for both the consumer and the environment.
The conference heard that, though BTL offers a solution, it is very severely challenged in terms of commercial viability and that a key enabler for its future deployment will involve the widescale rollout of its cheaper sister technology, GTL, which should bring down capital costs over time. The NiQUAN GTL plant will be an important part of this process and, in addition, it will help to create a trained pool of synthetic fuel experts who will be able to adapt to both GTL and BTL with equal facility.
In addition to the report and the briefing by NiQuan, there were also presentations by other organisations looking at ways to reduce emissions from ground operations, one of which involved the use of used cooking oil. These presentations served to remind the meeting that the likely future fuel slate will involve a variety of technologies and fuel-specific solutions.
The report marks a major milestone in the journey of clean fuels in the Caribbean region and sets a clear long term objective for the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s new synthetic fuel industry.