AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

How Sustainable Aviation Fuels Work

Generating renewable energy to satisfy human needs is among one of the most effective ways of not contributing the immeasurable effects we already have on the planet. Though great strides have been made in the aviation industry, there are still many ways in which we can move towards a greener approach to flying. For instance, flying aircraft powered by more sustainable fuels than petroleum has been possible since 2009, serving as the first type of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) approved by ASTM International.

As jet fuel is only partially petroleum-based, it can be considered SAF if it meets various sustainability criteria. Current aviation regulations permit the use of kerosene jet fuel for in-flight use and for distribution to airports, with the most common jet fuel types being Jet A and Jet A-1. When Jet A/A-1 is blended with SAF, there is a significant difference in the raw materials from which they are synthetically derived. Presently, SAF is approved as a blend of synthetically derived components and traditional fossil fuels.

The SAF production process incorporates a number of renewable feedstocks, including vegetable oils, animal fats, algae, alcohol and sugar derivatives, as well as waste streams. Production begins with processing the feedstock into an intermediate bio- or syn-crude which is further refined and then distributed to airports. This process minimizes the pollutant emissions produced by the consumption of jet fuel, lowering it by 80% when blended with SAF as opposed to Jet A or Jet A-1. It is during the feedstock generation, production, and distribution process of SAF that the most carbon footprint benefits are made apparent.

Currently, there are seven types of certified “drop-in” SAF that are available at some airports and have been used for over 300,000 commercial flights, all of which are blended with a small quantity of Jet A or Jet A-1. However, this still only accounts for less than 1% of global aviation fuel consumption, which is why we are trying to adopt SAF globally. Nonetheless, as per an ATAG’s Waypoint 2050 report regarding the SAF growth rate, SAF will only account for about 2% of global fuel consumption by 2025.

On the other hand, the same report shows that the displacement of traditional jet fuel may reach 86% of the global fuel supply by 2050 with the rise of new investments, regulatory policies, and optimization in SAF production. Moreover, according to industry studies, with the rise of hybrid, electric, and hydrogen technologies, the aviation realm may reach zero carbon emissions by 2065. More recently, engineers have looked to hydrogen as another renewable fuel alternative, though more time is needed to perfect its use.

For example, liquid hydrogen necessitates cryogenic fuel tank storage and delivery systems, as well as increased aircraft tank capacity since liquid hydrogen requires four times the volume per unit of energy when compared to Jet A and Jet A-1. In fact, transoceanic or intercontinental flights will still use SAF solutions given the time needed to develop and improve wide body aircraft. For this reason, all general aviation (GE) engines are certified to use Jet A and Jet A-1, and they are capable of operating with SAF that meets the same requirements specified in ASTM D1655 and D7566 standards. 

For those looking for jet fuel alternatives, aviation fuel additives, engine components, motor parts, or other related aircraft products, rely on Stacked Aerospace. Stacked Aerospace is a leading distributor with over 2 billion items in stock and ready for purchase, allowing customers to find everything they need with ease. Initiate the procurement process by requesting a quote on any item you see on our database and see why customers choose Stacked Aerospace for all of their operational needs! 


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April 18, 2022
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