The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) supports groundbreaking bioenergy technologies to produce industrially viable fuels and products using renewable biomass and waste resources.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is an example of a biofuel that has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, giving airlines solid footing for decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from flight. Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about SAF.
FAQ: Sustainable Aviation Fuels
What are sustainable aviation fuels?
Sustainable aviation fuels are drop-in fuel blending components derived from renewable or waste-based feedstocks that, relative to petroleum-based fuels, provide reduced carbon dioxide emissions. SAFs can increase the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of aviation operations. They also represent an important market for the bioeconomy because they can be produced from multiple biomass feedstocks and conversion pathways, and are compatible with existing aviation engines, distribution infrastructure, and storage facilities.
Why are SAFs important for the bioeconomy?
The aviation sector is highly motivated to use cost-effective SAFs for commercial, business, and military aircraft because of the economic growth, job creation, and environmental benefits they offer. Availability of SAF is critical for the aviation industry to meet significant international carbon reduction commitments that have already been made.
What are the U.S. government’s goals for SAFs?
The federal government has several goals for expanding SAF. These include:
- Sharing information and key findings among federal agencies and coordinating communication activities
- Ensuring research and development efforts reflect the critical needs of commercial, business, and military aviation
- Developing best practices to foster the success of SAF supply development for commercial, business, and military aviation sectors.
SAF Grand Challenge
What is the SAF Grand Challenge?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce SAF on a commercial scale. The strategy will highlight needs in research and development, scale-up, policy and financing, state and local involvement, and workforce development.
The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Grand Challenge is an ambitious government-wide commitment by the United States to scale up the production of SAF to 35 billion gallons per year by 2050, with a near-term goal of 3 billion gallons per year by 2030.
DOE Secretary Granholm, along with USDA Secretary Vilsack and DOT Secretary Buttigieg, convened a roundtable discussion on the key opportunities and challenges related to achieving the SAF Grand Challenge. The roundtable gathered input from diverse stakeholders on the importance of SAF in addressing the climate crisis and enabling American workers and communities to reap the benefits of developing a supply of fuels from domestic renewable feedstocks, including wastes.
The roundtable and Memorandum of Understanding between DOE, DOT, and USDA highlights the commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to place aviation on a pathway to lower emissions and 100% SAF by 2050.
Why is the SAF Grand Challenge necessary?
A difficult to decarbonize transportation sector, aviation is pursuing a climate strategy that relies on advancements in aircraft technology, fuels, operational improvements, and international agreements. Drop-in advanced liquid SAFs produced from renewable or waste resources offer a critical near-term solution.
The Biden-Harris Administration has committed to advance the development and deployment of high-integrity SAFs that meet rigorous international standards. The United States is well positioned to be a global leader in the emerging SAF market as both a significant producer of SAF and an exporter of SAF technology. SAF production will generate high quality jobs, including in rural America, while decoupling aviation growth from emissions and supporting the long-term viability of the aerospace and aviation industries.