IEA Bioenergy Task 39 reports digs deep into present and future SAF technologies

July 6, 2021 |

In Colorado, a new report prepared by IEA Bioenergy Task 39 provides an extensive analysis of the current and potential technologies for production of biomass based sustainable aviation fuels (Biojet/SAF).

Sustainable Aviation Fuels will have to play a major role if the aviation sector is to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. However, to date, commercialization has been slow and current policies have proved inadequate to accelerate commercialization and widespread deployment of the various technologies described in the report.

As described in IEA’s recent publication Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, although synthetic hydrogen-based jetfuels will also play an important role in the future, in the short-to-mid-term biojet fuels will predominate. Commercial battery electric and hydrogen aircraft are expected to play a small role in the 2050 timeframe.

Annual volumes of biojet fuel have increased in recent years, from less than 10 million liters in 2018 to likely more than 1 billion liters by 2023 (and potentially ~8 billion liters by 2030!), with the vast majority of this volumes derived from lipids/oleochemicals via the HEFA (hydrotreated esters and fatty acids) pathway. As described in the report, the upgrading of fats, oils and greases (FOGs) to HEFA is fully commercialized and biojet production is relatively simple compared to other pathways. Currently, these facilities are primarily used to make renewable diesel (driven by incentivizing policies for road transport), however, about 15% of this renewable diesel could be separated and used as Biojet/SAF, provided some additional infrastructure is established at the refinery.

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Category: Fuels

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