Airline operator Virgin Group has partnered with chemical conversion company Agilyx to research and develop a new sustainable aviation fuel based on waste plastics, as well as establish production facilities for it. While the process has not yet been approved as a pathway to low-carbon-fuel production, Agilyx’s technology breaks down the plastics into a synthetic crude oil using pyrolysis. Once it undergoes further refining, it can then be used as jet fuel.
The two companies will collaborate on the process to certify the new fuel, which they will then bring to market. Virgin expects to use the fuel as part of its stated goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
According to the companies, the first production facility, with an anticipated capacity of 200 tons a day, is expected to be located in the U.S. with completion and startup within three years. After that, other locations, including in the UK, would follow. The otherwise unrecycled plastic waste would be sourced from Cyclyx, a feedstock provider that is largely owned by Agilyx.
“We view plastic waste as a valuable above-ground resource that is not widely tapped into,” said Agilyx CEO Tim Stedman. “Through our technology, we aim to unlock the value of plastic waste that otherwise may have been destined for landfill or incineration.”