& Commercialization of
Sustainable Aviation Fuel"
The aviation industry is committed to achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and a key strategy to reach this goal will be the use of sustainable aviation biofuels. Sustainable aviation biofuel will decrease carbon emissions and support the continued growth of aviation.
Biofuels are derived from organic sources like plants and algae. Sustainable aviation biofuels are those that: Meet or exceed jet fuel standards; have significantly lower carbon emissions over their lifecycle compared to fossil fuel sources; do not displace food crops or jeopardize drinking water supplies; minimize impacts on biodiversity and do not contribute to the clearing or conversion of natural ecosystems and areas of high conservation value; and have a positive socioeconomic impact where feedstocks are grown.
Airlines, manufacturers, refiners, NGO’s and others are all working together to advance and commercialize sustainable aviation biofuels.
An Effective Solution
Aviation biofuel presents an elegant solution to reducing the growth of carbon dioxide emissions. Ideally it presents an almost closed loop system. Plants and algae absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and separate the carbon and oxygen for use in growth and metabolism.
Later the biomass is harvested and sent to a biofuel refinery where it is processed into aviation biofuel and other products. The resulting fuel meets or exceeds the requirements for jet fuel. A jet engine operating solely from sustainable biojet fuel only releases the carbon absorbed by the feedstock plants, which results in better lifecycle environmental performance.
Similarly, sustainable biofuel can also be made from waste products such waste cooking oil, industrial by-products, or even municipal solid waste. Fuels from these sources use carbon that would otherwise be directly released into the atmosphere and can thus result in lower lifecycle carbon impact.
In contrast petroleum based fuels do not recycle atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but release additional CO2 into the air.
Biofuel: A Drop-In Fuel
A drop-in fuel meets or exceeds the appropriate jet fuel specification. For example, the biofuel must have an energy density equal to or greater than conventional jet fuel and it must be able to function in the heat of a desert and in the bitter cold at 40,000 feet. SAFUG supports drop-in aviation biofuels because it is the practical solution - no new infrastructure or additional handling costs.
Test flights began in 2008, and culminated in the approval of fuel as part of the ASTM and Def-Stan fuel standards. To date, more than 1,500 passenger flights have been flown using sustainable biofuel.
A variety of candidate feedstocks have been tested and utilized across the world. All show potential in providing a steady supply of aviation biofuel.
Chemical processes to convert biomass to aviation fuel are known and proven. Also showing promise are enzymatic and microbial processes capable of creating molecules suitable for aviation. SAFUG encourages refiners to produce a drop-in aviation fuel using processes that minimize environmental impact, support sustainability, are economically viable, and meet local and regional needs.