New sustainable fuels H2020 project headed by CEAS academics
Dr Vincenzo Spallina and Professor Adisa Azapagic from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science (CEAS) are to head a University of Manchester-led consortium for a new Horizon 2020 (H2020) project aimed at developing sustainable fuels.
Dr Spallina will lead the GLAMOUR (GLycerol to Aviation and Marine prOducts with sUstainable Recycling) project, which seeks to address the production of jet fuel and marine diesel oil by developing new low-carbon and low-cost methods through the recycling of waste products from bio-processes.
The four-year project has received a €5 million grant from the European Union's (EU) Horizon 2020 programme, and officially started in May 2020. GLAMOUR, which is coordinated by The University of Manchester and involves participants from six EU countries, is a broad collaboration covering the complete value chain, from feedstock supplier to end-users.
Aviation and shipping sectors rely on fossil fuel-based technologies and today represent 5% of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide. More than one billion passengers travel through Europe by plane, resulting in an average fuel consumption of 3.4 litres per passenger-kilometres; around 80% of global trade by volume, meanwhile, is carried by sea - with an overall total marine fuel consumption of 330 million tonnes per year - and this is responsible for 13% of total greenhouse gas emissions from EU transport sectors.
The enormous carbon footprints of the aviation and marine sectors must be reduced by 50% by 2050 to help achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The GLAMOUR consortium will address this problem.
It aims to develop two new processes to convert glycerol - an abundant by-product of first and second-generation biodiesel plants - as well as other bio-based feedstocks in aviation and marine fuels. This is possible after converting the feedstock into syngas and later to liquid fuels with an efficient thermal recovery.
To achieve its goals, GLAMOUR plans to demonstrate an efficient and low-cost two-step chemical process. In the first step, glycerol is gasified using a new gas-solid reaction process based on sorption-assisted chemical looping to tailor syngas composition with inherent pure CO2 separation. In the second, the syngas is converted into liquid fuels using a Fischer-Tropsch compact reactor with 3D printed catalyst, and later integrated with commercial fuel upgrade and refining processes.
The consortium includes two universities, three research centres and five industries (including two SMEs). The other participants are Argent Energy Limited (UK), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NL), Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (ES), Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek (B), INERATEC GmbH and C&CS catalysts and chemical specialties GmbH (DE), Siirtec Nigi SpA and Ciaotech Srl (IT). The project also includes an advisory board with industrial stakeholders such as TOTAL, Johnson Matthey and ENGIE.