Sustainable aviation fuel basics for curious travelers. Check out these helpful and reliable resources to learn more about sustainable aviation fuel.
Sustainable aviation fuel is a key component in the set of solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by travel. Sustainable aviation fuel has an up to 80 percent lower carbon footprint than conventional jet fuel, and it helps protect water and air quality because of its low sulfur content. It also significantly reduces the particulate matter (soot) of airplane emissions.
Sustainable aviation fuel is a biofuel that can be used to power airplanes and is made of waste and residue materials. It is a “drop in” fuel that can be mixed with conventional jet fuel and requires no modification to existing jet engines.
Lee et al 2021: aviation's total climate impact is 3x that of CO2 alone and contrail cirrus has even larger impact than CO2 - ScienceDirect
Voigt et al 2021: flight test results show that SAF can reduce soot particles by 50-70%, leading to reduction in contrail cirrus - Cleaner burning aviation fuels can reduce contrail cloudiness
SAF is not physically transported and entered into the specific aircraft of the person paying for the fuel. This is because transporting the sustainable aviation fuel to a specific airport or flight is not always possible and could lead to even higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead, the sustainable aviation fuel you purchase is delivered into the fuel system at an airport close to the SAF production facility. This entry is tracked and verified, and allocated to the individual or organization that has paid for it.
Sustainable aviation fuel can be made from a variety of renewable sources (feedstocks) including agriculture, forestry, and animal wastes and residues. An example of an agricultural processing residue that can be used in the production of sustainable aviation fuel is the husks, chaff, or cobs of corn. Animal manure and fats, along with used cooking oil are examples of waste feedstock.
The sustainability of fuel feedstocks depends on how the production of feedstock affects land and soils.
Used cooking oils are appealing from a cost and sustainability perspective, but are challenged today from low supply.
For a step-by-step look at how Tomorrow’s Air partner Neste creates sustainable aviation fuel, see Neste Sustainable Aviation Fuel
Sustainable aviation fuel delivers an up to 80 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction over conventional jet fuel. This is calculated by taking into account the entire life cycle of the fuel - from raw material extraction to consumption of the fuel - and comparing it to similar emissions from fossil jet fuel.
Burning fossil fuels increases the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, which is one of the main drivers of climate change.
The burning of fuels produced from renewable raw materials, such as SAF, releases the same amount of carbon that renewable raw materials rather recently absorbed from the atmosphere. Hence, the use of renewable raw materials is considered as carbon circulation, not adding new volumes to the atmosphere.
Today the volume of sustainable aviation fuel produced is very low - less than 1 percent of total jet fuel demand. As government interventions to support sustainable aviation fuel’s expansion take time, producers of sustainable aviation fuel can accelerate faster with consumer support.
Tomorrow’s Air believes it can be part of the solution to help expand the use of sustainable aviation fuel by aggregating and coordinating traveler and travel business demand for it.