The Race to Find a Greener Jet Fuel

The aviation industry is facing growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions and find green alternatives to conventional jet fuel. Field pennycress, formerly known as Brassica, is a plant that has undergone intensive breeding and genetic engineering. Now, it is being cultivated as a sustainable fuel source.

CoverCress oil is an ideal bioenergy feedstock that can be used to produce sustainable diesel, renewable diesel fuel (SAF), biodiesel, and other added-value coproducts. According to a US study published in Frontiers in Energy Research, using CoverCress oil as a biofuel for biodiesel production and renewable jet fuel reduced GHG emissions by as much as 85% and 63%, respectively, compared to oil-based production.

With commercial aviation accounting for over 13% of global transport emissions, efforts to develop sustainable alternatives to aviation and other modes of transport are essential to global efforts to reduce climate change.

SAF, with its low CO2 intensity scores, is a key part of the industry’s efforts to decarbonize and achieve carbon neutral growth, and CoverCress may be a viable solution to achieving these goals.

Embracing sustainable aviation

In their efforts to reduce aviation emissions, FMC aviation members, which partner with WEEF, have committed to adopting emissions reduction technologies such as SAF. These technologies have the potential to contribute up to 65% to the key objective of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to FMC.

SAF prices are currently two times higher than fossil jet fuel prices due to factors such as feedstock cost, blending cost, and safety testing costs, but economies of scale can reduce these costs, positioning SAF as a key enabler in aviation’s journey to decarbonization, as reported by the FMC.

The need for sustainable food has raised concerns about the potential for global food shortages, especially due to the use of biofuels primarily derived from maize and soybeans. As a result, researchers are turning their attention to non-edible crop options such as CoverCress, which can produce low-carbon fuel without competing with essential food sources.

The need to scale up the production of sustainable fuels

Biofuels, including cover crops, are highly attractive in the wider context of sustainability. However, their impact is still in its early stages. SAF has a long way to go before net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, and as of 2022, only 453,000 commercial flights use SAF.

The UpLink Sustainable Aviation Challenge invites innovators to come up with more solutions for decarbonizing aviation and accelerating new technology pathways. These solutions can include sustainable fuel, propulsion technologies, value chain innovations such as feedstock, engineering and infrastructure, and market development.

Source :WEF

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