Rentech Offering Up Jet Fuel Made From Coal Waste

Petroleum Coke

Your next flight might be powered by coke–coal and petroleum coke, that is. Airlines including American, Delta, Lufthansa, and US Airways have signed a deal with alternative energy company Rentech to buy 500,000 barrels of jet fuel each month made from coal and petroleum coke, a waste product from refineries.

It sounds like another win for the CO2-spewing coal industry, but Rentech claims that its jet fuel actually releases fewer carbon emissions than jet fuel currently in use. And by using jet fuel from a reliable source like coal, airlines are protected from the volatile oil market–and that might mean more stable flight prices.

Rentech’s coal-based fuel will be produced at a Mississippi-based plant. Eventually, the plant will also generate fuel from biomass (i.e. woodchips). Biomass-based fuel has an even lower carbon footprint than coal-based fuel since woodchips come from trees instead of CO2-heavy refining processes.

The Mississippi plant isn’t the only project in Rentech’s pipeline. The company also operates a California plant that is turning woodchips into diesel fuel for airline ground operations, and Rentech recently received a Department of Energy grant to help produce renewable synthetic fuels from biomass.

[Via Green Inc.]AS