Biofuel Aviation | Facts you need to know.

Biofuel aviation

Biofuel aviation 

Biofuel aviation is  safe, reliable, low carbon biofuel, this term is the main term used by the aviation industry to describe a non-conventional (fossil-derived) aviation fuel.

It has many other terms such as sustainable alternative fuel, sustainable alternative jet fuel, renewable jet fuel, or biofuel aviation is used, in general, the same intent is meant.

It is produced from biological resources (plant or animal material) and used to power aircraft that have similar properties to conventional jet fuel but with a smaller carbon footprint.

Depending on the feedstock and technologies used to produce it, biofuel aviation has the potential to provide a lifecycle carbon reduction of up to 80% compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces.

You may know sustainable aviation fuel companies such as SAF.


The Work of ICAO on Biofuel Aviation

The 38th Session of the ICAO Assembly recognized the many actions that ICAO Member States have taken and intend to take in support of the achievement of the collective aspirational goals, including the development and deployment of sustainable alternative fuels, and encouraged further such efforts (Resolution A38-18, paragraph 8).


The Three-Key Element of Biofuel Aviation

It consists of three key elements:

1.      Sustainable

2.      Alternative feedstock to crude oil

3.      Fuel

1- Sustainable

It can be continually and repeatedly resourced in a manner consistent with economic, social, and environmental aims, and conserves an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources. 

2- Alternative feedstock to crude oil

It is a fuel for aviation with an alternative feedstock (raw material from which fuels are produced) to crude oil.

For example, in the USA it is estimated that one billion dry tons of biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States, enough to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon biofuels. These resources include:

1.      Algae

2.      Agricultural residues

3.      Corn grain

4.      Dedicated energy crops.

5.      Forestry residues

6.      Oilseeds

7.      Other fats, oils, and greases

8.      Municipal solid waste streams

9.      Wood mill waste

10.    Wet wastes (manures, wastewater treatment sludge)

This vast resource contains enough feedstock to meet the projected fuel demand of the U.S. aviation industry. (Reference: Energy.Gov)

For example, sustainable aviation fuel companies such as Air BP currently made from used cooking oil and animal waste fat. 

3- Fuel

This Means jet fuel that meets the technical and certification requirements for use in commercial aircraft.



Biofuel aviation Can be safely mixed with conventional jet fuel

The chemical and physical characteristics of alternative aviation fuels are almost identical to those of conventional jet fuel and they can be safely mixed with traditional jet fuel to varying degrees, use the same supply infrastructure, and do not require the adaptation of aircraft or engines. Fuels with these properties are called “drop-in fuels” (i.e., fuels that can be automatically incorporated into existing airport fueling systems). It is safe to do so by certified fuel producers without endangering aviation safety.


Alternative Aviation Fuels Improve Aircraft Performance

Many biofuels aviation contain fewer aromatic components, which enables them to burn cleaner in aircraft engines. This means lower local emissions of harmful compounds around airports during take-off and landing. Aromatic components are also precursors to contrails, which can exacerbate the impacts of climate change.


Cost of biofuel aviation compare to traditional jet fuel

Biofuel aviation is currently more costly than traditional fossil jet fuel. That’s down to a combination of the current availability of sustainable feedstocks and the continuing development of new production technologies. As the technology matures it will become more efficient and so the expectation is that it will become less costly for customers.


Acceptance and deployment of biofuel aviation

The key to greater acceptance and deployment of SAF fuel is a reduction in costs. Over the long term, that will require investment in advanced technologies to process feedstocks more efficiently at a greater scale and investment in the development of sustainable and scalable feedstock options.

However, in the short-term, interim support from governments and other stakeholders through policy incentives is needed. This support needs to be part of a long-term framework to give investors the confidence to make the big investments required to grow supply.


Sustainable aviation fuel means sustainable aircraft.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority.

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