Velocys celebrates the launch of its reactor core assembly plant

By Erin Voegele | October 23, 2023

Velocys plc on Oct. 23 announce the launch of its new technology facility in Plain City, Ohio, that will house the reactor core assembly and catalysis operations related to its production process for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

The building’s construction began in mid-2022 and was complete by the end of the year, with fit out complete over the winter. Velocys said 20 employees are now onsite installing equipment, which is expected to be fully commissioned for production by mid-2024. The facility will house an estimated 35 employees when in full production.

The Ohio site enables the consolidation of Velocys’ catalysis services, microchannel reactor core assembly and technology licensing under one roof. According to the company, the facility has the capacity to produce approximately 48 cores per year, enough to support 12 reactors, which is the typical requirement for the operation of a single commercial-scale SAF biorefinery with a capacity to convert approximately 1 terawatt hour (TWh) per year of energy.

"The completion of this state-of-the-art facility is a real milestone both for Velocys and for the move to decarbonize the aviation industry,” said Henrik Wareborn, CEO of Velocys. “It is another critical piece in the jigsaw to go alongside the support we are receiving from regulatory and policy initiatives in all of our core markets. I would like to offer my thanks to the State of Ohio along with the many contractors who have completed this project in such a short time frame. To move from planning permission to completion in two years is a testament to all those involved and takes us a big step closer to enable our clients to produce SAF with ultra-low carbon intensity at commercial scale."

Velocys expects the facility to have sufficient capacity to meet projected orders until 2028, including those from the company’s two biorefinery reference projects, which are under development in Mississippi and the U.K. 

The company provided an update on the development of both projects in a half-year financial report issued on Sept. 21. 

The proposed Bayou Fuels project, under development in Natchez, Mississippi, aims to produce 36 MMgy of SAF from wood biomass feedstock. An integrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) project and the use of renewable power is expected to enable the production of negative carbon intensity (CI) fuel. In its half year financial report, Velocys said it hired EcoEngineers to validate the reasonableness and accuracy of the life cycle assessment (LCA) of the proposed project. That analysis predicts the facility will be able to produce SAF with a deeply negative CI score of -389 grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule (gCO2ei/MJ), which translates into a more than 500 percent carbon savings relative to fossil jet fuel. 

In addition, Velocys said its engineering partner Bechtel has successfully completed the final pre-front end engineering design (pre-FEED) study for the biomass power island and the post-combustion carbon capture facility. The company has also extended the site option agreement for the project site subject to ongoing discussion in relation to required site-works and has completed a preliminary environmental review of the proposed biomass power plant site. 

The financial report confirms that Velocys has extended milestone dates in the existing SAF offtake agreement with Southwest Airlines to reflect the previously announced revised project schedule of FEED commencement in 2024. 

The Altalto project, under development in Immingham, U.K., aims to produce 20 MMgy of SAF from municipal and commercial solid waste feedstock. Velocys said FEED, the final state of engineering prior to a final investment decision (FID) is advancing as planned. In addition, license and engineering services agreements have been concluded with key technology licensors, including Topsoe, Air Liquide and TRI to support the FEED phase. The technology licensing agreement with Velocys is expected to be finalized during the fourth quarter of this year. The company also noted that an archaeological survey has been completed, along with construction of an initial site access road. 

 A full copy of the half year financial report is available on the Velocys website