Making it to Market – Global Bioenergies and SkyNRG team up to make it happen

April 22, 2018 |

In France, Global Bioenergies and Amsterdam-based SkyNRG are collaborating on ASTM-certification of a bio-isobutene feedstock and conversion process for the production of sustainable aviation fuel. You may know Global Bioenergies for their breakthrough process converting renewable resources into isobutene, and SkyNRG as a global leader in sustainable aviation fuel, but this new collaboration is quite exciting as they are now working together to accelerate the commercialization of Global Bioenergies’ approach to process isobutene into a jet fuel blending component. You heard that right – awesome breakthrough innovation making it to real life markets.

The companies will work towards the aviation industry’s approval allowing the addition of Global Bioenergies’ isobutene-based SAF into ASTM D7566, the predominant jet fuel specification used by the industry, thereby enabling commercial use by airlines as quickly as possible.

The specs

The first batches of the bio-isobutene-based SAF were produced by Global Bioenergies in Leuna (Germany) and sent to SkyNRG for preliminary analysis, laying the basis for Tier 1 of the ASTM evaluation process, according to their press release. The evaluation process includes up to 4 stages: from Tier 1 up to Tier 4 (as described in ASTM Standard Practice D4054). Tier 1 tests consist of the analysis of physical and chemical properties of the fuel, such as: composition, volatility (distillation curve and density), fluidity (freezing point and viscosity), net heat of combustion, corrosion and thermal stability.

The SAF batches are mainly composed of C12 iso-paraffins with very good “cold-flow” properties, high octane and an energy content in the jet fuel range. The targeted C12 iso-paraffin molecules are the same as those present in conventional jet fuel. The product was obtained through oligomerization and hydrogenation of bio-isobutene. Both the pure product as well as a blend with fossil-based kerosene will be evaluated. Global Bioenergies’ high-quality SAF can be produced from forestry or agricultural wastes.

What they say

Everyone knows the need for jet fuel keeps growing, and sustainable, biojet fuel is in more demand than ever, with record number of flights taking off every year with biojet fuel making the news. But we aren’t quite yet to the point where it is a part of mainstream aviation as a daily occurrence. This collaboration can change all that – as another step forward in the direction of biojet fuel commercialization.

What does SkyNRG have to say about it? “We’re excited to work together with Global Bioenergies towards the commercialization of this new production pathway for sustainable aviation fuel,” said Misha Valk, Head of Business Development at SkyNRG in the press release. “We think highly of Global Bioenergies’ fuel, because it has the potential to be scalable and cost effective, without sacrificing performance.”

Bernard Chaud, Chief Industrial Strategy Officer at Global Bioenergies, said, “We look forward to working together on aviation industry approval of our approach with our partner SkyNRG.” Chaud agrees that sustainable aviation fuel demand is increasing and also said, “Interest for sustainable aviation fuel is currently rising in Europe and all around the world because it is an essential solution to decarbonize this industry. We expect that initiatives to be taken by governments will soon widely foster the market uptake of sustainable aviation fuel.”

“Jet fuel is the fastest developing segment in oil products, growing at a pace of 4-5% per year,” said Marc Delcourt, Chief Executive Officer at Global Bioenergies in their press release. “This industry will rely on sustainable aviation fuel for a crucial contribution to reduce its carbon footprint. After having shown last week the reality of renewable gasoline in a first car on the road event with our partner Audi, we will soon show that our sustainable aviation fuel has a unique potential to concretely decarbonize the skies.”

The backstory

We end with the beginning because Global Bioenergies isn’t new to the space and has moved forward in some other notable areas that make us extra excited about this new SkyNRG collaboration. You see, Global Bioenergies has a multi-year agreement with Audi, the German carmaker, that caught our eye before, and as reported in The Digest in March, they reached a key milestone with the production and shipment of renewable gasoline components to Audi. Global Bioenergies produced high-purity renewable isobutene, which was further converted into high-performance gasoline additives including isooctane, ETBE and isododecane. These e-fuels will be used in engine testing by Audi, in complement to those already performed by Global Bioenergies.

As reported in The Digest earlier this month, Global Bioenergies will use an EN228-compliant gasoline blend containing over 34% of renewable, isobutene-derived, compounds to fuel a car on a circuit – for the first time ever. Global Bioenergies will present the results of preliminary engine testing conducted these past months by FEV, a European leader in engine testing.

So why is this all catching our eye? Because it means Global Bioenergies is this much closer to mass commercialization, to getting their biobased products in various markets, including automotive and aviation. We often see amazing technologies or innovative transformations, yet getting to commercialization and real life markets has always been a challenge, but here we are seeing it happen with Global Bioenergies collaboration with Audi and now with SkyNRG. And that is worth celebrating.

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