How Sustainable Aviation Fuel is Transforming the Industry
As the world grapples with the impact of climate change, industries across the board are exploring sustainable alternatives to traditional practices. One of the most notable examples is the aviation sector, which is increasingly turning to greener manufacturing, operational improvements, and infrastructure efficiencies to save emissions.
Aside from making the current fleets lighter and more efficient, flying net zero will require a collective effort to utilise renewable energy sources, and one of the most significant developments is the adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This renewable fuel source is transforming the industry and paving the way for a more sustainable future.
In this article
What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel and why is it important?
Sustainable aviation fuel is a type of biofuel produced from environmentally friendly sources like algae, leftover cooking oil, and plant and animal waste. It serves as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels, which are a substantial source of carbon emissions. SAF, which emits much fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional jet fuel, was created to lessen the aviation sector's carbon impact.
The use of sustainable aviation fuel has projected a lot of benefits for the industry and beyond. First and foremost, it reduces the industry's environmental impact. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), SAF has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel. This reduction in emissions has the potential to significantly lower the industry's carbon footprint and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.
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Benefits of Sustainable Aviation Fuel
Beyond lowering greenhouse gas emissions, SAF drives innovation in the industry. With airlines and manufacturers working together to implement SAF, comes investment in new technologies and processes that can help reduce costs in operations.
For instance, through the Sustainable Flight National Partnership, NASA and the FAA are partnering with the aviation industry to advance the development of more efficient aircraft and engine technologies. The goal is to achieve fuel savings of up to 30% compared to current planes, while also delivering notable reductions in noise and emissions, helping to promote a more sustainable aviation industry.
SAF also contributes to the development of a more sustainable supply chain. By using sustainable sources to produce SAF, the aviation industry is supporting the incubation of a new industry that is focused on renewable energy. This has the potential to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth in areas that are currently reliant on traditional fossil fuels.
Farmers can leverage the demand for sustainable aviation fuel by growing biomass crops that can serve as feedstocks for SAF production. This presents an avenue to earn more revenue during off-seasons while providing ecological benefits like reducing nutrient losses and improving soil health.
SAFs: As Seen Today
Today, several airlines have started using SAF to power their aircraft. On top of this, the use of SAF is also supported by government policies and initiatives.
- Emirates is the first passenger airline in the world to fly Boeing 777 powered by 100% SAF-equipped GE engines: A demonstration flight on a Boeing 777-300ER powered with 100% SAF was able to fly for more than one hour over the Dubai coastline, demonstrating SAF as a safe and reliable fuel source.
- Malaysia Airlines operated its first passenger flight using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF): At KLIA, a lasting supply of SAF is accessible for airline customers and flights operated by sister airlines under Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), such as Firefly.
- North Queensland will manufacture alcohol-based sustainable aviation fuel: Qantas, Airbus, and the Queensland government will contribute funding to explore the creation of a $400 million ethanol-based sustainable aviation fuel factory in North Queensland.
As more airlines and manufacturers begin to use this renewable fuel source, the industry is likely to contribute to a more sustainable future for all.
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