BETO: Biofuels Key to Mitigating Growth Constraints of Aviation Industry

03.28.17 | Blog | By:

BETO this week released a report on the state of the alternative aviation fuels industry, noting that “biofuels are key to mitigating the growth constraints of the aviation industry. Biobased jet fuels also present a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels towards domestically produced aviation biofuel that would further reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs, particularly in rural areas, and to advance the mission of BETO for the development of sustainable alternative fuels.”

BETO notes that while several conversion pathways have been approved for biobased aviation fuels, remaining technical, social, and regulatory barriers have limited both the production of bio-derived jet fuel and the growth of the industry. To better understand these barriers and to help develop a potential research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) strategy to further support the development of bio-derived jet fuel, BETO held a workshop last year to engage stakeholders and to gain further understanding about challenges and opportunities related to aviation biofuels, including the following:

  • Advance progress needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable production of aviation biofuels
  • Increase the economic and technical competitiveness of aviation biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass
  • Enhance the environmental and sustainability benefits of aviation biofuels
  • Ensure robust feedstock and product supply chains to support the development and deployment of aviation biofuels.

Key findings from the plenary presentations include the identification of common characteristics of successful alternative aviation fuel production. Some of the common characteristics mentioned during the workshop include the need to make fuel of sufficient quality for desirable blending impacts, ensuring the execution of proper scale up approaches and techniques, and forward-looking methods for achieving higher profitability and maintaining competitiveness of the bioenergy industry. The stakeholders’ discussions also emphasized the importance of stable government policies necessary for the continued growth of the bioenergy industry. Following in the table below are the operational or planned AJF production facilities in the U.S.

LanzaTech is also developing additional pilot-scale plants, including a facility for alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) in Soperton, Georgia. LanzaTech has partnered with Boeing, Virgin Atlantic, General Electric, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), to develop and commercialize their ATJ processes. LanzaTech has produced 1,500 gallons of synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) from non-fossil-based sources for testing. BETO notes that other developers committed to pilot- and demonstration-scale operations in the United States, such as Gevo, have included jet fuel products as part of their portfolio. Recently, Gevo signed an offtake agreement with Lufthansa to supply up to 40 million gallons of ATJ over a 5-year period. A summary of offtake agreements follows in the chart below.