Towards Greener Skies
Similar to the automobile industry, the aviation industry is also seeking technically viable and economical approaches to endowing sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based jet fuel. The major reasons for looking alternative jet fuel are cost in stability and climate change.
The alcohols cannot be directly used as aviation turbine fuels (called as jet fuel) due to its lower energy content (i.e. energy density of ethanol is 25 MJ/kg) and other properties such as flash point, freezing point, auto ignition temperature, when compared to the jet fuels namely Jet A and Jet A -1 (i.e. 43 - 48 MJ/kg).
Recently, ASTM International revised their ASTM D7566 Annex A5. The ethanol is added as feedstock for producing synthetic paraffinic kerosene (jet fuel). This revision clears the way for increased adoption of sustainable aviation fuels, because ethanol feedstocks can be made from so many different low-cost sources.
Strong Demand Growth
Developing economies (rising middle class, tourism, socio-economic) of China, India and Japan will make air travel grow at a faster pace, which will accelerate the global aviation fuel market growth.
The global aviation fuel market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.22% between 2018-2026.
North America is expected to lead the growth in the aviation fuel market followed by China, India and Japan. In 2018, United States alone accounted for almost half of the global jet fuel market.
Airline Industry’s Commitment to GHG Reduction and Renewable Fuels
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), has committed to establish a carbon neutral growth by 2020, with its ultimate aim of reducing the 2050 carbon emissions to half of 2005 levels.
The figure below clearly shows that sustainable aviation biofuels would play the major role in accomplishing IATA’s goal. It is essential that these fuels are competitively priced with petro-jet prices in order to establish a continuous, steady growth in the jet fuel market, either as blend stocks (current scenario) and also as a substitute or a “drop-in“ (future scenario).
Apart from reducing the aviation sector’s carbon footprint, sustainable aviation fuel is perhaps the best practical and sustainable solution to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and offset the risks associated with crude oil price (jet fuel price) volatility.
In addition, sustainable fuels would also help reduce the dependency of countries on fossil fuels, promote local manufacturing and create jobs, which would ultimately help in improving the GDP.
Why Ethanol to Jet?
- Ethanol is the most abundantly available biofuel and is readily availble globally.
- Unit operations in conversion of ethanol to Jet fuel are all commercially proven chemical processes
- Flexibility to produce both blend stocks as well as drop-in jet fuel.
- Uses Existing Jet Fuel Infrastructure and requires NO modifications of existing Jet Engines.
- No Special Handling or Tracking required
What Is Alcohol-To-Jet Technology?
The technology essentially consists of four steps: Alcohol Dehydration, Olefin Oligomerization, Distillation and Hydrogenation. The reaction conditions of oligomerization stage can be tuned to produce varying amounts of aromatics.
In addition, the process can be tuned to produce gasoline/diesel/jet fuel in varying proportions depending upon the market demand.
Successful commercialization of the ATJ process will ultimately reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to petroleum-based jet fuel. Corn/Biomass to Ethanol Technologies combined with ATJ technology, will deliver a practical solution for producing renewable jet fuel from widely available biomass sources.