BA 2119: Future of Fuels

As we celebrate our past we have also been looking to the future and what the next 100 years of aviation might look like – including how aircraft could be powered.

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As part of this we launched our BA 2119: Future of Fuels challenge in collaboration with Cranfield University. We called on British universities to develop a new or different sustainable fuel pathway to achieve global leadership in the development of sustainable aviation fuels. We posed the question of how to power a long-haul flight for at least five hours and produce zero CO2 emissions.

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After six months of competition in which 11 universities were whittled down to a final three, teams from Heriot Watt, the London School of Economics (LSE) and University College London (UCL) presented their solutions to an expert judging panel, including representatives from the Department for Transport and Cranfield University. Team entries were judged on a combination of criteria including carbon reduction potential, level of innovation, value to the UK economy and feasibility to implement.

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The team at UCL was crowned the winner. UCL’s solution would see household waste turned into jet fuel, with plants to convert the waste near landfill sites across the country. The team estimates that this could deliver 3.5 million tonnes of jet fuel annually by 2050, resulting in negative emissions and the equivalent of taking more than 5.5 million cars off the road every year.

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Our parent company IAG will invest a total of $400m on alternative sustainable fuel development over the next 20 years. We are the first airline in Europe to invest in building a plant, with renewable fuels company, Velocys, which converts organic household waste into renewable jet fuel to power our fleet.

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