The aviation sector has determined that advanced biofuels provide the only feasible near- and medium-term option for significantly reducing the sector’s carbon footprint.

Feedstock & Technologies

SAF is a certified, drop-in fuel that satisfies fossil jet fuels’ form, fit, and function requirements, while meeting verifiable sustainability standards. It is a synthetic kerosene aviation jet fuel derived from a range of biomass such as vegetable oils and animal fats, forest or agricultural residues, and industrial waste gasses. Bio-based aviation fuels must be produced using ASTM-approved technology pathways, so that the SAF can be used in existing jet engines without modification.
SAF is produced using a combination of biochemical and thermochemical processes.

The vast majority of SAF/biojet commercially available today uses hydrotreatment of esters and fatty acids (HEFA), which converts oleochemicals to jet fuel via deoxygenation with hydrogen and cracking.

Other technology pathways also have approved ASTM SAF registrations:

  • Fischer-Tropsch (FT) converts carbon-rich material (e.g. biomass) into sugars, which are then catalytically converted to jet fuel.
  • Alcohol to Jet (ATJ) converts sugar/ starch derived alcohols to jet via dehydration, oligomerization and hydrogenation. Alcohol feedstocks include biomass, MSW, and industrial waste gasses.
  • Direct Sugars to Hydrocarbons (DSHC) ferments plant sugars and starches to hydrocarbons which are subsequently thermo-chemically upgraded to jet fuel.

Find out more on technology pathways at netzerocleanfuels.ca

Applications

Currently no manufacturer of aircraft or engines intends to restrict the use of their equipment to a particular fuel or way of operating that is markedly different from the aviation fuels currently in place. As a result, short to medium term alternative aviation fuels must be “drop in” replacement of fossil kerosene as the development of new engines, aircraft and infrastructure is complex and expensive. New types of aircraft (with corresponding engines) that could employ “non-drop in” fuels could enter the market in the future but are not likely to occur at commercial scale before 2050 due to the slow replacement rates of current aircraft.

Aircraft and engine manufacturers have no demonstrated alternatives to the liquid aviation fuels that are currently used for long-haul flights. As a result, alternative aviation fuels must be “drop in” replacements for fossil kerosene. New aircraft and engine types that employ electricity and hydrogen are expected to enter the short-haul commercial aviation market in the next decades; they are currently being demonstrated but have no in-service commercial application.