Sustainable Aviation Fuel is a greener way to fly. It is a clean alternative to jet fuel that’s produced and refined from organic feedstock and helps aircraft and airports reduce their carbon footprint.
Currently, the aviation industry produces about 2-3% of all artificial carbon emissions. However, experts project that by the year 2050 this number could reach as high as 22% if we don’t take action now.
There are generally a few different ways to reduce the carbon footprint for any type of transport, but the major one is renewable energy sources. Since it would be too optimistic to expect most aircraft to be electrically or hydrogen-powered in the nearest future, SAF is the most suitable and readily available solution.
First and foremost, sustainable aviation fuel takes care of the carbon footprint of aircraft and airports. Most aviation CO2 emissions are assigned to the combustion of jet fuel, and the main reason why is because jet fuel is refined from petroleum. Using fossil fuels to power flights takes the carbon from under the Earth’s surface and throws it into the atmosphere. SAF, on the other hand, uses organic feedstock such as agricultural residues, algae, biological oil waste, and others. The key element in the production of SAF is that it uses the carbon which was initially taken from the atmosphere by plants, and puts it back in during combustion. Rather than ejecting new greenhouse gases into the air, SAF creates a loop in which it emits the CO2 that’s then absorbed by plants and used again as fuel. Therefore, sustainable aviation fuel can cut down aviation carbon emissions by 80%.
Unlike bioethanol that’s derived from corn, potatoes, or grain, the production of SAF does not compete with important food sources. Furthermore, it prioritizes humans and relies on human consumption because a good share of commercialized sustainable aviation fuel comes from vegetable oils and waste oils. The production of SAF would not limit or be limited by competition with other major human resources. This makes it occupy an independent niche in the market, therefore, making it easier to manage its production.
Due to its similar nature with jet fuel, SAF can be mixed in and the blend can be used in current aircraft engines. Unlike electrically or hydrogen-powered flights, where the energy source couldn’t be used unless the aircraft is heavily modified, there is no need to optimize current technology to accommodate the use of SAF.
SAF proves itself to have a higher energy density compared to that of conventional jet fuel. Besides, SAF provides greater energy efficiency (up to 3%), saving its users’ money in the long run.
From 2016 to now, over 250,000 flights have taken off using SAF. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that current SAF production is around 50 million litres annually. However, this isn’t nearly enough for SAF to become an important global energy source for aviation. For SAF to make a significant impact and for its price to drop to competitive levels, its production needs to reach at least 7 billion litres. Governments and fuel producers must cooperate to make this happen, and there couldn’t come a better time than now.
Now is the best time to act to reduce the aviation carbon footprint. With travel and lots of flights suspended during the early months of the pandemic, the aviation industry needs rebuilding. Governments are already heavily investing in post-covid recovery, and this is the perfect opportunity to improve aviation. IATA calls for airlines to rebuild greener and cleaner in the post-covid world, and SAF is the primary way to do so. The current plan is to reduce CO2 emissions to 50% of what was produced in 2005.
iFuel AG strongly emphasizes the need for SAF. We agree with IATA and we are determined to do everything in our power to improve aviation’s impact on the environment. We believe it is important to reduce our clients’ carbon footprint and help rebuild the industry in an environmentally friendly way. This is why we partner with many SAF suppliers and make sure to provide you with a sustainable solution when you need one.