New Study Sees Competitive SAFJ Prices in Future

 - April 1, 2019, 11:10 AM
Project scientist Daniel Mendez works on lab-scale bio-jet-fuel production at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, CA. (Photo: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

While the aviation industry is showing increasing interest in the use of sustainable alternative jet fuel (SAJF), price and meager supply remain key issues. But according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, sustainable, plant-based jet biofuels could provide a competitive alternative to conventional jet fuels if currently planned development and scale-up initiatives continue to progress.

The study, “Techno-economic analysis and life-cycle greenhouse gas mitigation cost of five routes to bio-jet fuel blendstocks,” published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, provided evidence that optimizing the biofuel production pipeline is well worth the effort.

While the cost of biofuels is currently around $16 a gallon, compared to $2.50 for conventional jet fuel, the researchers demonstrated that all five current SAJF production pathways could create fuel products at that target price, providing the leftover biomaterial from the process could be developed into and sold as a profitable byproduct.

“Our hope is that early in the research stages, we can at least simulate what we think it would look like if you develop these fuel production routes to the point of maturity,” said Corinne Scown, lead author and researcher. “Thankfully the answer is they can be viable, and we’ve identified improvements that need to happen all along the conversion process to make that happen.”