Analysis of UK companies producing carbon molecules of potential value to a UK sustainable aviation fuel industry

Posted on: 24/04/2019

KTN analyses 49 UK companies that are known to be developing chemical processes to convert sustainable feedstocks into fuel products.

Combating climate change and the move towards a low-carbon economy is arguably the greatest challenges for industry Рand society as a whole – with serious action required from industry and Government in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C and reduce the risks associated with climate change.

Sustainable fuels have the potential to play an important role in achieving the UK’s ambition to reduce carbon emissions from transport and in the move towards a global low carbon economy. The 2014 Sustainable Fuels UK Roadmap suggests that the use of SAF in the UK can contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions of up 24% by 2050 for the aviation sector and could generate a Gross Value Added (GVA) of up to £265 million in 2030 and support up 3,400 jobs.

As part of the KTN’s SAF SIG engagement activities, we have interacted with more than 100 organisations along the aviation fuel supply chain to share knowledge and better understand their capabilities and expertise to support a UK SAF industry.

The team analysed 49 UK companies that are known to be developing chemical processes to convert sustainable feedstocks into fuel products. The analysis includes companies that are developing processes which target a range of fuels, not just SAF, because under the right market conditions and with the right policy incentives and technology partners, it may be attractive to convert their process to SAF production.

For each company, the team assessed the following criteria:

1.     Feedstock utilised
2.     Conversion technology
3.     Type of Carbon molecule (product) targeted
4.     Technology Readiness Level (TRL) they are operating at
5.     Whether the technology and feedstock are ASTM D4054 compliant
6.     Whether the feedstock meets DfT’s criteria to qualify for Renewable Transport Certificate (RTC) under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO)

Figure 1: Matrix to illustrate the current target product, feedstock, technology utilised, and TRL of 49 UK organisations. The winners of the DfT F4C competition are included. (Download PDF)


(Download PDF)

Next Steps

The analysis indicates that we have a strong cohort of innovators in the UK that are currently between TRL 3 and 8 and will therefore require a combination of funding support from the public and private sector in order to progress. These organisations would also benefit from collaborations with supply chain partners that can help bring their technology and products to market quicker.

Those organisations that are already developing a process that would be eligible under RTFO and under one of the existing ASTM routes are particularly attractive owing to the (potentially) quicker route to market as a drop-in fuel and with higher probability of meeting ASTM requirements and would also have help from UK Government in the form of the RTFCs.

Important note:
The analysis is by no means exhaustive and is focused on the 49 companies that KTN is aware of.

Background and useful links:
This analysis has been undertaken as part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Special Interest Group (SIG) activities to better understand the innovation landscape in the UK

Other resources that you may find useful include:
SAF Landscape Map
Understanding the ASTMD4054 process for jet fuel approval
Cleared for Offtake: a resource for the sustainable aviation fuel supply chain
Sustainable Aviation website

Peter Clark, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Chemistry (Raw Materials)
Michelle Carter, Sustainable Aviation Fuel SIG lead & Interim Head of Transport

Chris Lewis Fuels Consultancy for input on the ASTM compliance.

Share this article


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.