A focus on Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Positive developments emerge to drive the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

Posted on: 20/01/2020

Positive developments emerge to drive the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)


Michelle Carter, Head of Transport at KTN reviews developments thus far and offers an overview of what will emerge in 2020.


In 2014 Sustainable Aviation published its Fuels Roadmap highlighting the value of a UK SAF industry by 2030. The creation of 12 biofuel plants and 0.7 mn T per annum production has the potential to generate 4,400 jobs, £265m Gross Value Add and a £220m export value. Key asks from industry included incentives in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (implemented in 2018), funding for R&D and a public-private partnership.


KTN worked with Sustainable Aviation, and with support from Innovate UK and Department for Transport (DfT), set up and ran a two-year Sustainable Aviation Fuel Special Interest Group (SAF SIG). The aim of the SIG was to build the UK supply chain by making connections and enabling networking. KTN has built up a network of over 400 people from industry and academia across the supply chain, supported 107 companies, made 82 introductions and enabled 9 collaborations and 4 NDAs signed by UK airlines with technology providers. In collaboration with industry experts, KTN helped define the R&D priorities required to stimulate a SAF industry in the UK. This resource is intended to inform investors and funding agencies to help focus investment. KTN will publish a final report on the SAF SIG in 2020.


New for 2020

Building the SAF supply chain. KTN continues to support businesses along the supply chain. An analysis of 49 companies developing chemical processes for sustainable fuel shows that many operate in TRL 3-8 and that 43% can potentially meet RTFO and ASTM D4054 compliance. Our aim now is to work further with these companies and connect them to experts, collaborators and funding to help them develop and scale up their process.


UK Clearing House Task Force. KTN has set up this Task Force to work with aviation fuel experts to write a business case to create a UK Clearing House for jet fuel testing. Any new aviation fuel must undergo stringent testing along four tiers, each tier requiring a larger volume of fuel and higher costs. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds fuel producers through the first two tiers of testing ensuring expedient market entry of new fuels. Chaired by Dave Smith, Rolls Royce, the Task Force is working with DfT, MOD and FAA to develop an operational framework for a UK Clearing House which will operate in close association with the FAA and the US Clearing House. The added value of a UK Clearing House is the potential to support the development and uptake of military standard sustainable fuels (DEF STAN 90-091). The business case and operational framework is set to be completed and ready for submission to DfT by June 2020.


Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The UK is a participating member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) CORSIA aiming to implement carbon neutral growth from 2021. For 2020, airlines from participating nations now need to collect carbon data to define the benchmark. A basket of carbon reduction measures will be needed to deliver this ambition, including new aircraft and propulsion designs, aircraft operations and SAF. As a corollary, to enable a SAF industry in the UK, further investment is required to scale up technologies, develop new technologies, build supply chains and research potential feedstocks. KTN has created a resource defining the R&D requirements and built a strong network across the supply chain, we now need investment across the TRL to support our ambition towards carbon neutral growth.


Sustainable Aviation Fuels Roadmap. Sustainable Aviation has refreshed their roadmap which will be launched in February and is set to improve on the 2014 figures. Industry continues to ask for more investment across the TRL’s and have been vocal in asking for a dedicated government office for SAF. KTN contributed to the roadmap by defining the barrier jet fuel testing presents to ensuring market entry of new fuels. Watch out for the release of the roadmap as it will provide facts and figures on the value and impact of a UK SAF industry (analysis conducted by E4Tech).


2020 will bring new activities and priorities for SAF. The importance of SAF as part of a portfolio of measures to decarbonise aviation is critical. Relative to fossil fuels, SAF offers 65-90% carbon savings. Liquid fuels will remain essential for international aviation for many years yet. Technologies to make SAF exist now but many producers require support to scale up production and take their fuel through the testing process. KTN will continue to work with businesses to broker new connections along the supply chain and with fuel experts and government to create solutions to break down barriers to enable a robust SAF industry in the UK.


If you would like to find out more about SAF, contact KTN’s Head of Transport, Michelle Carter.





Related programme

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Innovation Programme

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Innovation Programme

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