Biofuels: You Say You Want A Revolution?

A potentially "revolutionary" technology could soon be deployed to trap waste CO2 from large buildings and use it to help produce biofuel on site.

Origo Industries has this week announced that it has signed a deal to trial its Ecobox technology at Liverpool John Lennon airport with work on the project to begin from next month.

The trial will see CO2 from air handling units on the terminal building filtered through a photo-bioreactor containing algae. The CO2 will be absorbed by the algae, accelerating its development to a point where it can be refined to produce a biofuel.

The airport plans to use the resulting biofuel to run its ground-based vehicles, while the waste biomass produced by the refining process will be passed through a drying process and fed into a burner which will supply some of the airport's heating and hot water.

Origo said that it hoped to be produce up to 250 litres of biofuel a day using the system when it starts operating next summer, and added that should the trial prove successful it had plans for a larger version of the Ecobox capable of producing up to 3,000 litres a day.

It also said that it had ambitions to work with John Lennon airport to use the system to produce aviation-grade biofuel – something of a Holy Grail for the aviation sector which is currently investing heavily in a raft of projects designed to produce plant-based jet fuel.

Ian Houston, chief executive of Origo Industries, said that the technology had the potential to work in any large building.

"The project at John Lennon Airport is an early trial of a system which we believe could have a significant impact on the way companies today can obtain fuel and manage carbon emissions," he said. "If it works there, then why not anywhere?"

The full cost of the trial was not disclosed, but Origo insisted the project would deliver a return on investment within a year.