Air transport: new bio-fuels to eliminate emissions

  Fuels, NEWS & INTERVIEWS, Sustainable Mobility, Technical innovation

IATA has set the goal for zeroing emissions for 2050 and several projects have already begun to produce sustainable fuels

Air transport and zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050; this is the objective set by airlines attending the latest summit of the International Air Transport Association (Iata). This is a complicated challenge, bearing in mind that civil aviation is expected to reduce its emissions progressively at the same time as meeting growing demand for flights. To meet the needs of ten billion people who will take flights in 2050, approximately 21 gigatons of carbon emissions will have to be reduced, as estimated by Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, a world leader in gas fermentation technology.

During the summit held in Boston, USA, 3-5 October, LanzaTech unveiled revolutionary technology that transforms carbon from aircraft exhaust into new, clean fuel, thanks to a gas fermentation process. The project, involving annual investments of four million euros, envisages the joint participation of the United States – through the Department of Energy – and China. Inasmuch, LanzaTech will begin producing 40 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel (Saf) in 2022.

Production of sustainable fuel is also at the centre of the agreement in the USA between Delta Air Lines and Aemetis, a renewable fuel company specializing in negative carbon footprint products. The agreement envisages the delivery for ten years of a supply of 250 million gallons, worth over one billion dollars. Aemetis‘s fuel offers significant environmental advantages compared to petroleum-based jet fuel, including a lower carbon footprint in the production and consumption cycle. The sustainable fuel blend is expected to be available for Delta to use starting in 2024.

The agreement is one of several initiatives launched by Delta, together with other operators, to ensure a “green” future for aviation. The airline is committed to carbon emission neutrality and is keen to replace 10% of its conventional jet fuel consumption with sustainable fuel by the end of 2030. Powered 100% by renewable electricity, the Aemetis Carbon Zero plant project uses cellulosic hydrogen obtained from waste wood with a negative carbon rate. Hydrogen is then used to hydro-treat vegetal oils or other renewable oils to produce jet fuel and diesel.