"We are introducing recycled de-icing fluid at Helsinki Airport for the first time this winter season. The recycled propylene glycol is manufactured to match the quality of new de-icing fluid entirely, and it is a more ecological alternative," says Finavia’s Vice President Jani Elasmaa, responsible for apron and runway operations at Helsinki Airport.
The amount of recycled propylene glycol, or de-icing fluid, to be used at Helsinki Airport is nearly 500 tonnes. Its utilization will reduce carbon emissions from de-icing fluid use and transportation by roughly 1500 tonnes during the winter season.
The recycled propylene glycol supplied to Helsinki Airport is produced at the Clariant chemical company's plant in Rauma, Finland, where it is manufactured to the same standard as new de-icing fluid. In terms of performance, recycled de-icing fluid is equivalent to new fluid.
“At Clariant, we are committed to supporting the vision of a more circular economy through sustainable and innovative chemistry. Overall, circularity is one of our key principles and we strive to close the circle by reducing the use of primary raw materials in our products, refining our operating processes to minimize waste, and by offering innovative solutions to enable downstream industries to become more circular,” says Clariant’s Head of Operations Aviation Nordic Mats Holmström.
Going forward, Finavia hopes to use self-collected and recycled propylene glycol for aircraft de-icing and anti-icing at Helsinki Airport in the future. Elasmaa believes that the use of recycled fluid will increase in the coming years, and it has been introduced at other airports in Scandinavia as well, including airports in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
"Our goal is to build the necessary infrastructure, so that in the future, we can recycle propylene glycol used here at Helsinki Airport.”
According to Elasmaa, the de-icing fluid at Helsinki Airport is currently recycled by collecting it with vacuum trucks and separate apron drainage systems, from where the fluid is delivered for further treatment at a wastewater treatment plant.
“Currently, the fluid is used as an alternative carbon source, replacing methanol in the denitrification process, which is a sustainable way to dispose the used fluid too, but the lifecycle ends there.”
Finavia's aim is to reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero levels by 2025. This means that Finavia will reduce its emissions as close to zero as economically and technically feasible.
"At Helsinki Airport, the goal will be achieved by 2024. The use of recycled de-icing fluid is one way to further reduce our emissions and increase circular economy," says Jani Elasmaa.