The Aviation Industry Journey to Sustainability – Beyond SAF Sustainable Aviation Fuels
13 May 2023| By Just Aviation Team
Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are a sort of fuel that is composed of renewable assets, such as biomass, waste oils, and different sustainable feedstocks. SAF can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution compared to standard fossil fuels, making it an essential tool for reducing the aviation industry’s environmental impact.
There are numerous sorts of SAF, each with its own production technique and technical residence. For example, Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) SAF is produced from vegetable oils and animal fats through a process called hydroprocessing. Fischer-Tropsch (FT) SAF is produced from biomass or natural gas using a process called gas-to-liquid conversion. Pyrolysis SAF is produced from the thermal decomposition of biomass.
SAF has the capability to noticeably lessen greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. For instance, HEFA SAF can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% as compared to standard jet gasoline. In addition to decreasing emissions, SAF can also enhance the air by lowering the release of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
However, there are technical challenges associated with generating, transporting, and using SAF. For example, the feedstocks used to produce SAF must be sustainable and not compete with food production or other land uses. Moreover, the manufacturing technique should be optimized to make sure that the SAF meets the necessary technical and regulatory requirements.
Scaling up Sustainable Aviation Fuels for Commercial Use
Every other undertaking is limited by the confined availability of SAF, as it presently represents a totally small fraction of aviation SAF fuel use. Scaling up production and infrastructure to support use in business and Airline SAF aviation and airlines will require significant investment and collaboration across the industry.
Despite these challenges, there are already several examples of business for SAF aviation and airlines. For example, in 2020, Gulfstream Aerospace became the first business sustainable jet manufacturer to use SAF for customer deliveries.
Airlines, together with KLM, United Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, have also made SAF commitments and are actively utilizing SAF in their operations. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are a promising device for decreasing the environmental impact of aviation. but good-sized technical challenges must be triumphed over to scale up manufacturing and infrastructure to guide massive use in business aviation and airlines.
The Compelling Benefits of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF
The use of SAF provides many benefits for business aviation and airlines, such as reduced carbon emissions, improved engine performance, cost-effectiveness, secure supply chain and regulatory compliance. Some of the technical benefits of SAF are:
- Reduced Carbon emissions: The use of SAF helps reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. For example, British Airways launched an initiative aimed at increasing the use of SAF. In 2019, the Company announced that SAF could reduce carbon emissions by 2 percent and help the aviation industry meet its net zero carbon target by 2050.
- Improved Engine Performance: The use of SAF can improve engine performance as it provides cleaner combustion in engines. Besides that, SAF can also have a lower density, resulting in a higher weight-carrying capacity, resulting in greater fuel economy. For example, Qantas announced that the use of SAF could increase the range of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner by 1.5 times.
- Cost-effective: At first, SAF can be more expensive than conventional jet fuel. However, in the long run, using SAF may mean having a fuel source that is less affected by price fluctuations between energy sources. In addition, the aviation industry can further reduce costs by taking advantage of economic scales with the widespread use of SAF.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is an important solution in the aviation industry to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs address a range of issues from climate change to poverty reduction, and the aviation industry can contribute to these goals by adopting SAF.
SAF offers both environmental and economic benefits as a promising alternative to conventional jet fuel. It has the potential for more widespread use in the aviation industry in the future, and the industry continues to focus on innovative solutions for carbon footprint reduction and a sustainable future, focusing on solutions such as SAF. By adopting SAF, the aviation industry can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable development and help achieve the SDGs.
Types of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
There are several types of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) available, each with its own production process and properties. Some of the most common types of SAF include:
1. Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA)
This type of SAF is produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, and used cooking oil through a process called hydroprocessing. HEFA SAF is the most commonly produced and used SAF today.
2. Fischer-Tropsch (FT)
FT SAF is produced from biomass or natural gas using a process called gas-to-liquid conversion. FT SAF has high energy density and is considered a drop-in fuel that can be used in existing engines without modification.
3. Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ)
ATJ SAF is produced from sugar, corn, or other feedstocks through fermentation and conversion to alcohol, which is then processed into sustainable jet fuel.
Pyrolysis SAF is produced from the thermal decomposition of biomass. The process breaks down the feedstock into a gas that is then converted into liquid fuel.
5. Biomass-to-Liquid (BTL)
BTL SAF is produced from a variety of feedstocks, such as wood chips, agricultural waste, and straw, through gasification and conversion to liquid fuel.
As the demand for air travel continues to grow, there is a pressing need to find more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to power aircraft. SAF can provide a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels, enabling businesses and airlines to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and meet their sustainability goals.
Implementing Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in the Business Aviation & Airline Industry
SAF can be utilized in most present plane engines without change, making it a drop-in fuel that may be effortlessly adopted by the SAF aviation enterprise. However, due to differences within the chemical residences of SAF in comparison to standard jet fuel, modifications to engine gas structures and renovation practices may be necessary to ensure premier overall performance and protection.
Using SAF can have an effect on the overall performance of the aircraft, inclusive of its variety and payload ability. That is due to the lower strength density of SAF compared to traditional jet gasoline, which may bring about reduced fuel efficiency and range. However, advancements in SAF production and engine technology are working to address these issues.
Gulfstream Aerospace, a business jet manufacturer, has delivered several of its aircraft with SAF to customers. For example, in 2020, Gulfstream delivered a G650ER business jet to a customer in California that was fueled with a blend of SAF and conventional jet fuel. The SAF used in this delivery was produced from agricultural waste and used cooking oil.
SAF is becoming an increasingly viable option for business aviation, with several companies and operators committing to its use. However, the availability and cost of SAF remain significant barriers to widespread adoption, and further advancements in SAF production and infrastructure are necessary to support its growth in the industry.
Sustainable Fuel for Advancements in eVTOL Aircraft
As eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) aircraft become more advanced and widely adopted, sustainable SAF fuels are being explored as an alternative to conventional jet fuel. While electric and hybrid-electric planes can significantly reduce emissions, they are restricted by the energy density and weight of batteries. Sustainable SAF fuels, inclusive of hydrogen, ammonia, and biofuels, can offer vital energy density and weight while also reducing emissions.
Hydrogen is a particularly promising gasoline for eVTOL aircraft because it has an excessive strength density and may be produced using renewable strength sources. Ammonia is also being explored as a gas for eVTOL planes due to its high strength density and ease of storage and shipping. Biofuels, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), can also be used in eVTOL aircraft to reduce emissions. However, their energy density is lower than conventional jet fuel, which may limit their use in larger eVTOL aircraft.
Several companies are exploring sustainable fuels for eVTOL aircraft. For example, Airbus is developing a hydrogen-powered eVTOL aircraft, the CityAirbus, that is anticipated to enter service in 2023. The CityAirbus might be powered by means of two electric vehicles and a hydrogen gasoline cellular gadget, providing a range of up to 50 km and accommodating up to four passengers.
Sustainable fuels are an important area of research and development for advancements in eVTOL aircraft. At the same time as electric and hybrid-electric technology offer tremendous blessings, the use of sustainable fuels can provide vital strength, density, and range while also decreasing emissions.
At Just Aviation, we believe that sustainable fuels will play a crucial role in creating a sustainable future for aviation. As a team focused on the aviation industry, we are committed to working with companies that share our values and vision for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly aviation industry. We look forward to the continued growth and development of sustainable fuels in aviation and the positive impact they will have on our planet.