Jet fuel manufacturing unit, green hydrogen plant on CIAL’s cards

The move is to take a step closer to the zero carbon emission target of CIAL.
An aerial view of the Cochin International Airport (Representational photo | EPS)
An aerial view of the Cochin International Airport (Representational photo | EPS)

KOCHI: If things go as planned, Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) will have a jet fuel manufacturing unit built by BPCL Kochi unit that can cater to its fuel requirements. An initial round of discussions between the stakeholders of BPCL and Industries Minister P Rajeeve took place in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday in this regard.

“Discussions are on regarding the jet fuel manufacturing unit required for Kochi airport. Along with the implementation of BPCL’s state-of-the-art bio CNG waste treatment plant in Kochi within one year, there are also plans to implement other large-scale projects in Kerala,” said Minister Rajeeve.

According to an official with BPCL, CIAL has submitted a proposal for setting up a synthetic aviation fuel unit. “The discussions are in the preliminary stage, and nothing has been finalised yet,” said an official. 

Synthetic fuels, also known as e-fuels, can make a significant contribution to decarbonizing the aviation sector. The government aims to declare ‘net-zero carbon Kerala’ by 2050, and as part of that, various campaigns have been initiated in other sectors, including agriculture, road transportation, etc. 

The move is to take a step closer to the zero carbon emission target of CIAL. “As of now, nothing has been finalised. Only initial discussions have started. We may do it in the coming years,” said S Suhas, managing director of CIAL. 

According to experts, the aviation industry is one of the sectors that will pose the biggest decarbonisation challenge. Indian aviation is the third-largest and fastest-growing market in the world. Therefore, aircraft cannot adopt electric or hydrogen-based decarbonisation. 

As per the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s paper on synthetic fuel in aviation, the long lifecycles of aircraft and the development time of aircraft engines complicate the need for a fast and widespread transition to new, low-carbon technologies. Therefore, measures are being taken to introduce bio-fuel or synthetic fuel to replace conventional fuel.

Minister P Rajeeve, in his social media post, said that the meeting also discussed setting up a ‘Green Hydrogen Plant’, jointly with BPCL, CIAL, and Ashok Leyland. “The move is to provide a sustainable mobility option to CIAL by adapting to hydrogen buses. Ashok Leyland will provide hydrogen buses to CIAL, and it can use the produced hydrogen fuel to operate the buses on the runway,” said a source.

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