Flying towards Sustainability: Industry Leaders in Renewable Jet Fuel Production


London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The pursuit of renewable jet fuels is rapidly gaining traction as the aviation sector strives to diminish its carbon footprint and achieve ambitious climate targets. In light of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) pledge to slash net aviation CO2 emissions by 50% before 2050, the demand for sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) has reached a critical juncture. This article aims to delve into the existing contenders and groundbreaking advancements within the realm of renewable jet fuel, shedding light on the remarkable headway being made while acknowledging the obstacles that lie ahead.

Key Stakeholders in Developing Renewable Jet Fuels

LanzaTech, a prominent player in the renewable jet fuel market, stands out as a biotechnology company that has revolutionized the industry with its groundbreaking gas fermentation process. This innovative technique efficiently converts industrial waste gasses into ethanol, which can then be transformed into jet fuel through the alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) process.

In a remarkable milestone, LanzaTech joined forces with Virgin Atlantic in 2018 to successfully execute the world’s inaugural commercial flight utilizing a blend of conventional jet fuel and LanzaTech’s ATJ fuel. This groundbreaking achievement not only showcased the viability of their sustainable solution but also propelled them to the forefront of the industry.

Building upon this success, LanzaTech is now focused on expanding its production capabilities. The company is actively engaged in scaling up its operations, with ambitious plans to construct a state-of-the-art commercial-scale facility in the United Kingdom. This facility will have the remarkable capacity to produce over 100 million liters of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) annually.

Neste, a prominent Finnish company, stands as a pivotal figure in the realm of renewable jet fuel. This innovative company specializes in the production of renewable diesel and jet fuel derived from waste and residue materials, including used cooking oil and animal fat. Their remarkable creation, known as Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel, has been successfully employed in commercial flights since 2018, showcasing its potential to curtail greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 80% when compared to conventional jet fuel.

Charting the Progress of Renewable Jet Fuel Sector

Notably, Neste is currently embarking on an ambitious endeavor to expand its production capacity. By 2023, the company aims to generate a staggering 1.5 million tons of renewable jet fuel annually, solidifying its position as a leading force in the industry. In addition to the established players, numerous startups are venturing into the renewable jet fuel market with groundbreaking technologies. Gevo, a US-based firm, stands out among these companies as it produces renewable jet fuel from corn and other feedstocks using its exclusive isobutanol-based process.

Gevo’s renewable jet fuel has been successfully utilized in commercial flights since 2016, and the company is actively expanding its production capabilities to meet the increasing demand.

Fulcrum Bioenergy is an emerging startup that shows great potential in the renewable jet fuel industry. Their innovative approach involves converting municipal solid waste (MSW) into renewable jet fuel through a thermochemical process. This process begins by gasifying the MSW, resulting in the production of synthesis gas. The synthesis gas is then transformed into jet fuel using the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Fulcrum Bioenergy is in the process of constructing its inaugural commercial-scale facility in Nevada. Once operational, this facility is projected to yield more than 10 million gallons of renewable jet fuel annually. This significant production capacity demonstrates the company’s commitment to meeting the growing demand for sustainable aviation fuel.

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Challenges Faced by Jet Fuel Industry

These innovations are undoubtedly exciting, the renewable jet fuel industry still faces significant challenges in scaling up production to meet the aviation industry’s needs. One major hurdle is the high cost of production, which currently renders renewable jet fuels more expensive than conventional ones. However, as production technologies improve and economies of scale are achieved, it is expected that the cost of renewable jet fuels will decrease over time.

Another challenge lies in the need for supportive policies and regulations to encourage the widespread adoption of renewable jet fuels. Governments worldwide can play a crucial role in creating a favorable environment for the growth of the renewable jet fuel industry by implementing policies such as blending mandates, tax incentives, and funding for research and development. Continued innovation and collaboration between industry players, governments, and research institutions will be critical in ensuring the viability of renewable jet fuels.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.