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Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

  • Context (ET): GoI has set an indicative target of 1% for blending Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with conventional jet fuel for all international flights by 2027.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

  • Also known as Bio-Jet Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Fuel is a carbon-reduction solution that is available for use in aircraft and helicopters.
  • It is a “drop-in” fuel that can be blended up to 50% with traditional jet fuel.
  • Unlike traditional fuels, it is produced from renewable sources such as agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, and agroforestry residues.
  • It can also be produced artificially using a method that collects carbon out of the air.
  • Its chemical and physical properties are similar to conventional jet fuel.

Benefits of SAF

  • It has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.
  • It is a ‘sustainable’ fuel because the raw feedstock has negligible impact on the forest nor does it compete with food or water crops.
  • In contrast to fossil fuels, which release carbon that was previously locked up, SAF recycles the CO2 that has been absorbed throughout the course of the life of the biomass utilized as the feedstock.
  • It can be used in existing aircraft engines without modifications and can be blended with conventional jet fuel, making it relatively easy to integrate into existing aviation infrastructure.

Challenges associated

  • Four times more expensive than traditional fossil jet fuel.
  • Scarcity of waste based feedstock.
  • Lower energy density than traditional jet fuel.

Other Efforts toward SAF

  • CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) Programme: It is the 1st global market-based measure for international aviation to offset CO2 emissions.
  • Sustainable Skies Act of USA: It aims at expanding SAF production facilities through grants.
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