Here are some of the key questions commonly asked in relation to Sustainable Aviation Fuel, how it is manufactured and how it impacts on the future of global aviation. If you don’t find the answer you are looking for though, please contact us here.
SAF is a clean substitute for traditional fossil-based jet fuels. Rather than being refined from oil, SAF is produced from sustainable feedstocks.
Today most SAF is biogenic in nature with a large proportion derived from recycled used cooking oil. Other biogenic feedstock sources include, oleaginous oil crops, sugar crops, and biomass including forestry waste, and solid waste from homes and businesses (e.g., packaging, paper, textiles).
Alternatively, sustainably-sourced hydrogen and carbon oxides can be used and converted to hydrocarbons including SAF via the so-called e-Kerosene routes, including those based on green H2 from water electrolysis.
The aerobrew™ technology provides a route to large-scale production of e-kerosene, with high SAF selectivity and yields, overcoming the scale up challenges and high costs of alternative routes primarily based on Fischer-Tropsch technology. This leads to attractive project economics and cost leadership.
aerobrew™ is also compatible with the biogenic route whereby green methanol is derived from renewable and sustainable cellulosic biomass (wood, miscanthus, etc.) avoiding the need for feedstocks that compete with the food chain.
The use of green methanol as a feedstock enables the geographic separation of the value chain, allowing green methanol to be produced efficiently and at scale near to abundant and affordable renewable energy sources, with the option of SAF production near to the aviation fuel markets and existing infrastructure.
Aviation accounts for between 2-3% of global CO2 emissions and is the hardest sector to decarbonise.
For the aviation industry to undergo a step-change in how it reduces its carbon footprint, new technologies are needed to bridge the gap to greater use of SAF. Though other transport sectors have been able to lean on electrification and hydrogen power, airlines will still need to rely on hydrocarbon-based fuels, especially for medium- and long-haul travel where the energy-to-weight ratio of traditional jet fuel is required – hence the need for energy dense SAF.
Not only is the move towards SAF desirable for airlines and their customers, but it is being made necessary through emerging policy and legislation. For example, The International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) programme will see the emergence of market-based mechanism that will internalise the costs of carbon emissions making fossil-based aviation increasingly uncompetitive.
The Metafuels team have designed aerobrew™ to help airlines meet the legal requirements for meaningful carbon reduction at an affordable price.
SAF produced using aerobrew™ technology has the potential to provide a lifecycle carbon reduction of 80% or more compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces. Because the aerobrew™ process is designed to be efficient – allowing for a plant close to aviation fuel markets and green methanol production near to the sources of renewable electricity – it maximises the opportunity to reduce carbon footprint through the production process.
The SAF currently available in the market can be used as a drop-in fuel. This means that in most cases it can be blended in a ratio of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel, and it requires no new equipment to allow this.
The SAF produced by the aerobrew™ process will target becoming a 100% substitute fuel suitable for all aircraft.
SAF is more costly than traditional fossil-based aviation fuel, but this won’t always be the case. Advances in technology along the value chain, including affordable renewable electricity, green H2 production and the capture of sustainably sourced carbon oxides, along with the expansion of the associated markets, will help drive down costs. At the same time the internalisation of emissions costs will increase the costs of fossil-based fuels.
That’s where aerobrew™ comes in. Unlike some other methods of producing SAF from e-kerosene routes or biomass feedstocks, our process is unrestricted in scale or feedstock availability allowing an optimised production strategy. As demand increases, aerobrew™ plants would be able to provide economies of scale and ever more cost-effective SAF.
According to IATA, SAF has powered over 370,000 flights around the world since first being introduced in 2008. However, volumes currently remain low, with SAF accounting for less than 0.1% of the aviation fuel market.
In 2020, the SAF market was valued at $72.1 million (USD). By 2030 it is project to reach $6.26 billion (USD).
The IEA, under its net zero scenario (May 2021), projects that 75% of the jet fuel market will be SAF by 2050. This represents around 300 billion litres per annum.
Airlines are already looking to increase their usage of SAF thanks to new legislation and a consumer base keen to reduce their own carbon footprints. The aerobrew™ process is expected to play a key role in meeting the demand, with the ambition to help fuel manufacturers produce SAF at-scale.