RAF News

RAF lead the way in decarbonising Defence

A small team from 47 Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton, who won the RAF100 Engineering Competition in 2018 with an innovative idea for recycling waste hydrocarbons, is helping to boost the drive to decarbonise the military.

The team’s winning concept demonstrator takes waste aircraft oils and lubricants generated from servicing the Squadron’s C-130 Hercules aircraft, and breaks them down using bioprocessing microbes.  The project has been selected for further funding to develop the concept for the MOD. 

Talking about what the concept means for the environment, Wing Commander Nicholas Atkinson, special projects officer at RAF Brize Norton, said:

“These innovations should provide a significant improvement in the way the MOD manages waste with the ability to use deployable bioprocessors on military or disaster relief operations. This technology also has the potential to save money for the military – and the taxpayer – in waste charges, as well as protecting the environment.”


The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) announced £1m funding for the innovative technology, saving the Armed Forces money in waste charges, whilst delivering environmentally-friendly by-products in the process.

DASA – on behalf of the Royal Air Force – has awarded contracts to three universities and one engineering firm to develop the new technology to turn waste hydrocarbons into recyclable by-products such as water and organic residue for fertilisers.

Announcing the funding at the inaugural DASA Engagement Day at Cranfield University, Defence Minister James Heappey said:

“I am delighted to announce the winners of this important DASA competition who will work with great minds in the RAF to decarbonise our flying activities and help with the battle against climate change.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face. Working with scientists and innovators, we are determined to lead the way in decarbonising Defence”

Defence Minister James Heappey

DASA associate delivery manager Katy Violet said:

“DASA is proud to be working with the RAF on this important work. Innovation isn’t just about new kit, it is also about new and novel ways of doing things. The results from this funding have the potential to transform the way the Armed Forces deal with waste hydrocarbons in a green way while saving money.”

As well as being used on military bases, it is intended the technology will be further developed into portable bioprocessing systems for overseas bases and operational deployments.

DASA – the Ministry of Defence’s innovation hub – finds and funds exploitable technology to give Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and UK security a strategic advantage over adversaries while supporting the nation’s prosperity.

DASA works with scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), academia, and industry to rapidly develop these new technologies.

 The winning contracts have been awarded to:

  • The University of Sheffield, awarded nearly £300,000
  • North Shields-based SME Northern Engineering Solutions Ltd – in collaboration with Northumbria University, awarded nearly £330,000
  • University College London, awarded around £200,000
  • Liverpool John Moores University, awarded around £200,000