“Today, there are seven approved SAF pathways, but their use is limited. Airlines really want to use SAF but it needs to be cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels, since fuel makes up about 30 percent of the operating cost of an airline,” said Holladay, the transportation sector manager at PNNL who helped develop a waste-carbon-based fuel used in a Virgin Atlantic flight.
The report, Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Review of Technical Pathways, was authored by PNNL, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and University of Dayton for the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It outlines research needs for producing more jet fuel from renewable and wasted resources.
The report presents new insights resulting from a study of the aviation industry, commercial jet fuel, its composition, specifications and certification process, and the challenges and successes with approved chemical pathways that convert biomass to jet fuel. The report also assesses process improvements, technoeconomic analysis, and supply chain issues.
Solving another problem
As detailed in the report, the cost of sustainable raw materials can likely be reduced by looking at non-traditional biomass. The classic idea of corn or specific crops grown to produce