All Nippon Airways’ first flight in world using microalgae ASTM certified fuel

June 20, 2021 |

Another world first just happened! All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, took another step forward in advancing its leadership in sustainability, operating a regularly scheduled commercial domestic flight utilizing sustainable aviation fuel made from microalgae, blended with traditional jet fuel.

Yes, SAF made from microalgae. And it was the first flight in the world to use SAF certified to meet ASTM D7566 Annex7 jet fuel specifications.

In today’s Digest, how LanzaTech and Neste is related to this, details about the flight, the fuel, the financing, the forces behind it all, and more.

The fuel

The SAF was produced by the IHI Corporation, based in Japan. IHI is developing microalgae (Hyper-Growth Botryococcus Braunii) and engaged in the next-generation technology development for mass-culturing fast-growing microalgae and producing fuel from algal oil produced by the microalgae consistently. This project, which started in FY2017, has seen the progression of algal culture tests in Kagoshima and Thailand (Saraburi Province), as well as the production of bio-jet fuel using microalgae as a raw material.

The fuel blend rate was 3.8% for this flight, according to ANA. As a drop in-fuel, it can be used in the operation of commercial aircraft around the world. And being the first flight in the world to use SAF certified to meet ASTM D7566 Annex7 it means they met the standard for alternative jet fuel for aviation defined by ASTM International. Annex7 defines a liquid hydrocarbon fuel obtained by hydrogenating crude oil (mainly hydrocarbon) extracted from the microalga Botryococcus braunii. IHI independently applied for the standard to ASTM and it was approved in May 2020.

For a little more background, in 2019, ANA signed an offtake agreement with LanzaTech, Inc. to purchase sustainable aviation fuel, and expanded that partnership in 2020, giving ANA the opportunity to participate in fuel offtake across LanzaJet’s global portfolio and production. In 2020, ANA and Neste, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of SAF, entered into a SAF supply agreement, and together conducted the first flight out of Japan using SAF.

Together with Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation ,Toshiba Corporation, Toyo Engineering Corporation, Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd., and Japan CCS Co., Ltd, ANA entered an agreement in 2020 to begin reviewing recycling business models for reuse of CO2 from sources such as exhaust gases into SAF. ANA supports activities within Japan led by companies such as Euglena Co.,Ltd. with its initiative to produce SAF since 2011.

The flight

ANA operated a domestic commercial flight on June 17, 2021 using SAF produced as part of project led by NEDO. SAF is expected to play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of aviation, and ANA will continue to work together with partners to construct a supply chain for SAF as part of its effort to contribute to large-scale commercial production in Japan.

Details of the flight:

Date June 17, 2021
Route Tokyo Haneda to Osaka Itami
Flight No. NH31
Aircraft Boeing 787-8

The forces behind it

The SAF fueled flight was realized in partner with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) – a prominent Japanese public research and development body – which aims to develop integrated production technology for SAF, with the IHI Corporation supplying SAF used on the ANA flight. The Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Resources have led the initiative to establish and promote supply chains for SAF, bringing together related parties in the NEDO project.

Ryusuke Arashi, ANA Corporate Communications told The Digest in an exclusive interview, “ANA has pledged to become a carbon-neutral airline by 2050, with enhanced utilization of SAF being a key factor in achieving its ESG goals. ANA is committed to playing its part in pushing towards a sustainable future, and by working together with partners, ANA will continue to engage in development and transition to sustainable aviation fuel.”

ANA has pledged to become a carbon-neutral airline by 2050, with enhanced utilization of SAF being a key factor in achieving its ESG goals. ANA’s efforts have contributed to ANA being placed on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and ANA is also the only airline to receive the Gold Class rating in S&P Global’s Sustainability Awards 2021. Under the ANA Future Promise initiative, ANA is committed to playing its part in pushing towards a sustainable future, and by working together with partners, ANA will continue to engage in development and transition to sustainable aviation fuel.

Neste’s SAF progress

Speaking of Neste, they just announced that they delivered SAF to the Lone Star state, Texas. Just this past week, Neste and Signature Flight Support delivered commercial volumes of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and Houston-Hobby Airport (HOU) in Texas, as well as the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC).

The low carbon, renewable jet fuel supplied to the two Texas airports came from a local refinery in Galena Park, Texas, where Neste is working with a Houston-based partner to safely complete the final steps of the sustainable aviation fuel processing operations.

“Sustainable aviation fuel is driving one of the biggest transformations in the business aviation industry that we’ve seen in a long time,” says Chris Cooper, Vice President of Renewable Aviation for Neste in North America. “It’s as impactful as the first Boeing 747 flight 40 years ago, which ushered in a new era of affordable air travel. Together, Neste and Signature Flight Support are creating a future where business aviation passengers can fly with a much smaller carbon footprint by revolutionizing what powers aircraft.”

Neste and Signature Flight Support formed a strategic partnership to create an efficient, continuous supply of SAF for business aviation in the United States and beyond. Neste has been at the vanguard of sustainable aviation fuel production for nearly a decade and the company expects to have the capacity to produce some 515 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel annually by 2023.

Recently, Neste and Signature Flight Support achieved the important milestone of safely delivering one million gallons of SAF to private aircraft at the San Francisco Int’l Airport.

Also just this past week, Neste and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) signed a new agreement for the purchase of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel, to be delivered to airlines SAS and Finnair, covering the volume of all the flights with these carriers taken by BCG employees in the Nordics. Through this new partnership, BCG expects to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions on flights with these airlines.

In early April 2021, Neste already made Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel available to Finnair at Helsinki Airport to reduce emissions resulting from Neste’s own business air travel. And now, BCG is the first corporate client of Neste that is benefiting from the same SAF-based solution for emission reductions.

BCG has committed to achieving net-zero climate impact by 2030, and supports efforts to scale up the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels to decarbonize air travel as part of its broader strategy to reduce emissions resulting from business travel. SAF is an important lever to reduce the climate impact of flying, and the use of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel offers up to 80%* reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) compared to conventional fossil jet fuel. Partnerships like this are an important step in scaling up the SAF market by sending a clear demand signal.

Bottom Line

Sustainable aviation fuel keeps taking off! The more we see these “world firsts” around the globe, the more SAF is here to stay and grow and make a difference for the future of sustainable aviation. It isn’t about one feedstock or one airline but the innovation of many who collectively make a dent in improving things for all.






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