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What is and what are the benefits of sustainable aviation fuel?

Sustainable aviation fuel offers multiple benefits to the aviation industry in addition to reducing harmful carbon emissions. Read now to learn more.

Explore the opportunities that lie within this environmentally friendly alternative to conventional jet fuel

With entire countries and big businesses pledging to achieve net-zero emissions over the next few decades, the aviation industry has been put under pressure to reduce its emissions since the energy sector (electricity, heat, and transportation) is the largest emitter (73.2%) of greenhouse gasses across the globe. [1] 

Although electric- and hydrogen-powered airplanes offer massive potential to reduce emissions, they are far from being ready for commercial viability. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) provides a realistic solution to reducing emissions as a bridge between today’s gas guzzling aircrafts and the innovative electric- and hydrogen-powered ones of the future. 

Valued at $72.1 million in 2020, the worldwide sustainable aviation fuel market is projected to dramatically rise to $6.26 billion by 2030—a 56.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over 10 years. [2]  

Join us to discuss the importance of exploring sustainable aviation fuel options to help reduce carbon emissions and lower the threat posed to the overall well-being of the planet. 

What is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)? 

Used to power aircrafts, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has a similar makeup to conventional jet fuel, but a smaller carbon footprint due to the feedstock and technology it’s produced by. [3] As a drop-in fuel, SAF can be mixed in a ratio of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel to power modern-day airplanes without altering the plane’s storage, delivery, or fueling systems. [4]

SAF can be produced from a variety of existing renewable resources, including:

  • Forestry residues such as waste wood and energy crops, including fast growing plants and algae
  • Corn grain 
  • Oil seeds, and other fats, oils, and greases
  • Agricultural residues
  • Municipal solid waste streams
  • Wet wastes such as manures and wastewater treatment sludge [5]

The way sustainable aviation fuel is made is essential to how it benefits the environment and aviation industry

With the definition and key aspects of SAFs thoroughly defined, we can explore the environmental, economic, and social benefits of sustainable aviation fuel: 

#1: Reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

When it comes to the benefits of SAF, the number one advantage of utilizing it in aircrafts is its ability to significantly reduce lifecycle GHG emissions, depending on the feedstock and technologies used to produce it. [3]

In some cases, the use of SAF has been shown to reduce overall lifecycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil fuels. [6] Other innovative SAF production methods provide the possibility of net-negative CO2 emissions. [3]

The reduced carbon intensity is an especially vital solution for lowering the aviation industry’s GHG emissions, which accounts for between 9% and 12% of U.S. transportation GHG emissions. [7]      

#2: Provide additional environmental benefits. 

In addition to reducing GHG emissions, the utilization of SAF in aircrafts offers a variety of additional benefits to the health and well-being of the planet. 

Beyond CO2 emissions, SAF can also protect the Earth’s air and water quality by lowering emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are principal atmospheric pollutants that pose a threat to the well-being of humans and ecosystems. [8]

The renewable resources that act as sources for SAF provide some of the most significant environmental benefits. For example, using wet wastes to create SAF results in lowering pollutants on watersheds and keeping harmful methane gas out of the atmosphere. Plus, certain other biomass crops that are used to produce SAF can help control erosion, improve water quality and quantity, improve biodiversity, and store carbon in the soil. [3]

#3: Support the economic livelihood of feedstock growing communities.

Growing biomass crops to be used for SAF production is an effective way to support the economic livelihood of rural farming communities.

Specifically in the United States, farmers can sell SAF feedstocks during their off seasons to stay economically stable, while also reducing nutrient losses and improving soil quality. [3]

On a larger scale, certain countries with large amounts of land that are not viable for food crops can grow SAF feedstock crops or provide other feedstocks like municipal waste. Many of these countries can greatly benefit from the economic benefits of SAF production that does not harm their local food production ability like other job alternatives. [6]

#4: Improve aircraft performance. 

Although often overlooked amid its direct positive environmental impacts, utilizing SAF in aircrafts also provides improved aircraft performance. 

By containing fewer aromatic components, SAF burns cleaner in aircraft engines, which allows the planes to function even better than with traditional jet fuel. SAF also reduces local emissions of dangerous compounds around airports during take off and landing processes. [3]

Interested in leveraging your company’s results with INFLOR solutions? 

With consulting and customized solutions to improve your business performance, our team at INFLOR can provide a set of out-of-the-box solutions or even develop tailor-made ones to generate added value for your organization. 

As it relates to sustainable aviation fuels, our forest management solution can provide better control of the cycle of energy forests and better manage the forest waste generated during your operations to assist in its valuation as a product for the SAF market.

Ready to learn how we can help your company achieve high-performing results? 
Schedule a meeting with our team today.


1: Our World in Data | Emissions by sector

2: Allied Market Research | Sustainable Aviation Fuel Market by Fuel Type, Aircraft Type, and Platform: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2021-2030

3: U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) | Sustainable Aviation Fuels

4: Shell | Sustainable Aviation Fuel

5: Forest2Market | Sustainable Aviation Fuels: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

6: International Air Transport Association (IATA) | What is SAF? 

7: United States Environmental Protection Agency | Fast Facts on Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

8: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) iLibrary | Sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions

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