Flashback: Synthetic Fuels Stride Toward Approval

 - July 7, 2022, 8:47 AM

With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half-century.

REWIND (August 2009): The prospect of synthetic fuel qualification took an important step closer to reality last month when ASTM International’s aviation fuel subcommittee passed a new specification for alternative jet fuel. The new specification details the properties and criteria required to control the production and quality of synthetic fuels for aviation use.

The initial issue of the specification will permit the use of fuels derived from the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process, blended with up to 50 percent jet-A. The approval of the FT process fuels could be followed by qualification of other formulas.

FASTFORWARD: Sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF as it is now known, represents the major portion of the aviation industry’s decarbonization aspirations. With seven approved production pathways, plus more than a dozen waiting in the wings for certification, global production is expected to exceed 600 million gallons of pure SAF this year, a total that is expected to more than double by 2025 as more major refineries come online. Last year, the White House issued the SAF Grand Challenge, tasking U.S. industry to reach 3 billion gallons of SAF by 2030, a milestone on a government-wide commitment to scale up the production of SAF to 35 billion gallons per year by 2050. The ever-expanding list of potential feedstocks includes used cooking oils and greases, tallow, oilseed crops, forestry wastes and residues, municipal solid wastes, non-recyclable plastics, and even carbon and hydrogen derived from the air itself.