Renewable Aviation Fuels

Enlow and Associates

August 22, 2022

Aviation Fuels

The idea of using algae to make sustainable aviation fuel stirred up investments and lofty promises a decade ago. The idea has some potential, but it has also hit several roadblocks. For one thing, algae are expensive, and the process is not yet proven and widely available. Moreover, it is not clear what the impact will be on climate change and aviation emissions. Sustainable aviation fuels are also an excellent source of income for American farmers.


A new pledge from Airlines for America calls for the rapid development of commercially viable SAF. The association will work with the federal government and other stakeholders to make three billion gallons of SAF available for U.S. aircraft operators by 2030. This move will help the airline industry make significant progress in this decade toward carbon neutrality by 2050. The airlines’ commitment builds on their near-term commitment to meet neutral carbon growth by 2019.


Researchers are now working to turn waste into jet fuel using a chemical process. The new method breaks away from traditional biofuel production by using waste-derived liquid as a raw material. The fuel produced by this process is carbon-neutral and contains no sulfur compounds. It is also generally more energy-dense, which reduces aviation emissions. This process aims to meet the goals set by the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13 and CORSIA global targets for reducing CO2 emissions in aviation.

Cooking oil
Using waste cooking oil as aviation fuel is already being done in many parts of the world. For example, a company called Boeing plans to use 500 million gallons of cooking oil to make biofuel. It hopes to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50 to 80 percent using fuel. Its initial production costs are higher than conventional jet fuel, but the costs will decrease as more airports convert to it. It’s still in its early stages and could be worth pursuing.

Biomass crops

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) made from biomass crops are an excellent source of renewable, sustainable energy. In addition to providing an abundant energy source, they also benefit the environment and farmers by creating new economic opportunities. Biomass crops can also produce high-value bioproducts and renewable chemicals. These products can be used as fuel for aircraft and may even be sold as agricultural commodities.

Waste-based feedstocks

These feedstocks include cooking oil, food leftovers, and other waste products. Waste-based feedstocks are also more affordable than other biofuels, so it makes economic sense to divert them into aviation. Fortunately, the market for these biofuels is growing.

The IRA will catalyze a new domestic Sustainable Aviation Fuels industry and accelerate decarbonization efforts. LanzaJet, a leading SAF producer and technology provider, recognizes the Inflation Reduction Act’s importance for scaling up SAF and the aviation ecosystem. LanzaJet’s process converts ethanol into renewable diesel and drop-in SAF.

A tax credit is one way to encourage the production of sustainable aviation fuel. A blends tax credit would provide an incentive to fuel producers of sustainable aviation fuel. Under the plan, the blends tax credit would be worth at least $1.50 per gallon if the fuel has a 100% carbon intensity reduction, and it would be worth at least $2.00 per gallon if the blends have a 50% carbon intensity reduction. This could significantly reduce the cost of producing sustainable aviation fuel, making it more competitive with renewable diesel.