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US DOE releases roadmap to achieve SAF Grand Challenge objectives

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge Roadmap outlining a government-wide strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) across the US airline industry.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Grand Challenge is a US government-wide approach to work with industry to reduce cost, enhance sustainability, and expand production to achieve 3 billion gallons per year of domestic sustainable aviation fuel production that achieve a minimum of a 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) compared to conventional fuel by 2030 and 100% of projected aviation jet fuel use, or 35 billion gallons of annual production, by 2050.

The roadmap is the product of a collaboration between the US Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Aviation Administration.

US commercial aviation currently consumes approximately 10% of all transportation energy and contributes 2% of the nation’s CO2 emissions. SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint; emerging SAF pathways can even have a net-negative GHG footprint.

SAF can be made from renewable biomass and other resources, including corn grain, algae, agricultural and forestry residues, and municipal solid waste streams, and enough biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States to produce 50-60 billion gallons of low-carbon fuels. Growing, sourcing, and producing SAF from renewable and waste resources can also create new economic opportunities in agricultural and rural communities, improve the environment, and even boost aircraft performance.

The SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap strives to align government and industry actions and coordinate national policies to achieve the goals of the SAF Grand Challenge, which was signed in 2021 by the partnering agencies.

The roadmap lays out six action areas spanning all activities with the potential to impact those SAF Grand Challenge objectives:

  1. Feedstock Innovation

  2. Conversion Technology Innovation

  3. Building Supply Chains

  4. Policy and Valuation Analysis

  5. Enabling End Use

  6. Communicating Progress and Building Support

The roadmap also helps position the United States as an exporter of SAF technology and fuels to support other countries in their efforts to decarbonize aviation.


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