Sinopec company prepares to produce green jet fuel

Sinopec Zhenhai Refining & Chemical Co., a unit of petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group China Petrochemical Corp. (Sinopec Group), is looking to convert waste cooking oil into jet fuel, The Economic Observer reports.

The company has been investigating the potential of green jet fuel since 2009 and recently it successfully produced renewable aviation kerosene from used cooking oil (UCO).

Sinopec Zhenhai Refining & Chemical says it is able to produce 20,000 tonnes of renewable aviation fuel from UCO, and hopes the government will certify its biojet fuel in January next year so it can begin supplying commercial airlines.

However, refining costs could significantly delay the development of this market, as it is between 1.5 to 2 times more expensive to refine UCO than the price of regular jet fuel today. 'The cost of extracting biofuel from waste cooking oil and whether the fuel can be produced at a massive scale are two key factors that could hinder the market penetration of such fuel,' Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China, was quoted as saying.

In addition, he said: 'If the use of biofuel derived from gutter oil involved higher costs than the carbon tax, airlines will be reluctant to use the biofuel to power their flights.'

By 2020 it has been predicted that China will be consuming 12 million tonnes of renewable aviation fuel a year, around 30% of its projected total use.

Sinopec plans to be producing 60,000 tonnes a year of jatropha-based biojet by 2014, once it has built its new refinery in which to do so. 

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