The Near-Term Solution for Aviation Sustainability: Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

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By Kim Johnson | 1Q 2022 | IN-6476


With Options Limited to Reduce Aviation-Related Emissions, SAF Could Be a Sustainable Bridge


Since low-carbon technologies, such as electric and hydrogen propulsion, are unlikely until 2040 and beyond, the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is on the rise as a viable, carbon-reducing bridge to a future of hybrid and all-electric aircraft. SAF, which is made from renewable biomass and waste feedstocks, is promising for reducing carbon emissions because it offers similar performance to traditional jet fossil fuels, yet it has a significantly smaller carbon footprint. Multiple blends of SAF have been approved by industry standards developer American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International; however, the majority of SAF produced today is a synthetic kerosene called HEFA (hydro processed esters and fatty acids), made from energy-dense animal fats and vegetable oils, such as used cooking oil.

While production costs remain high for SAF as an emerging technology, the decision was made early on to keep SAF technically simple as a drop-in fuel that can replace traditional jet fuel without any modifications …

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