Skip to main content


  1. Home
  2. Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge

An airplane taking off in the sky with the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge logo in the background.

Cover page for the SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap: Flight Plan for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap

To achieve the SAF Grand Challenge 2030 and 2050 goals, the interagency team worked with other government agencies; stakeholders from national labs, universities, non-governmental organizations; and the aviation, agricultural, and energy industries to develop the SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap: Flight Plan for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Inaugurated on Sept. 9, 2021, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge is the result of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal government agencies working together to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) on a commercial scale.

The SAF Grand Challenge will guide federal actions to support industry to reduce the cost, enhance the sustainability, and expand the production and use of SAF to:

  • Produce 3 billion gallons per year of domestic SAF production that achieve a minimum of a 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel by 2030.
  • Meet a goal of supplying 100% of projected domestic aviation jet fuel use, or 35 billion gallons of annual production, by 2050.

SAF Grand Challenge Partners

Successful implementation of the SAF Grand Challenge will require close collaboration of agencies across the federal government—particularly DOE, USDA, DOT and its Federal Aviation Administration, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Working within the structure of the interagency Biomass Research and Development Board, an interagency working group on SAF has been established to enable coordination with representatives of a broader set of government agencies.

Recent News

Department of Energy Releases RFI Findings: Building Supply Chains to Meet SAF Grand Challenge Goals

DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office released a Summary Report from a September 2023 Request for Information (RFI) on building supply chains to meet SAF Grand Challenge goals. The RFI requested input from industry, academia, national laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders to identify opportunities for developing effective supply chains capable of meeting SAF Grand Challenge goals. The RFI was open to the public for two months and collected feedback from stakeholders resulting in multiple key takeaways. Read the report

Department of Energy Releases Report Outlining How America Can Sustainably Produce More than One Billion Tons of Biomass Per Year

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2023 Billion-Ton Report (BT23), which shows that the U.S. could sustainably triple its production of biomass to more than 1 billion tons per year. The report—the fourth in a series of assessments of potential biomass resources in the United States since 2005—finds that 1 billion tons of biomass could satisfy over 100% of the projected demand for airplane fuel in the country, allowing the U.S. to fully decarbonize the aviation industry with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Read more about the BT23 release

USDA Releases a Plan for Building a Resilient Biomass Supply

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the report Building a Resilient Biomass Supply: A Plan to Enable the Bioeconomy in America. The plan presents recommendations for programs, research, development, and demonstration, and policies that could increase biomass availability, build supply chain systems resilience, and expand the use of domestic biomass within the bioeconomy. Read more about this report.

DOE and EPA Announce $9.4 Million to Spur Development of Advanced Biofuels as Part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), entitled, “Inflation Reduction Act Funding for Advanced Biofuels,” for up to $9.4 million for the development of advanced biofuels.  This investment through a new agreement between EPA and DOE is funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and will support high-impact biofuel technology projects to improve the performance and reduce the cost of biofuel production technologies, scale up production systems in partnership with industry, and accelerate the nation’s bioeconomy. Read more about this FOA.

Funding Notice: Department of Energy Announces $29 Million to Drive Feedstock Innovation for Clean Energy Production

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced $29 million in funding to drive research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of low-carbon-intensity, purpose-grown energy crops critical to accelerating a clean energy economy. The Regional Resource Hubs for Purpose-Grown Energy Crops funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will advance a domestic supply chain of alternative carbon sources necessary to produce biofuels and bioproducts to decarbonize the transportation and industry sectors, as well as innovate and grow the U.S. agricultural industry. Read more about this funding announcement.

FAA launches $245 Million grant program for SAF Infrastructure Projects

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched a new competitive grant program: Fueling Aviation's Sustainable Transition, or FAST, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The FAST grant program will make investments to accelerate production and use of sustainable aviation fuels and the development of low-emission aviation technologies to support the U.S. aviation climate goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The sustainable aviation fuels elements of the program, termed FAST-SAF, will provide $245 million to advance the deployment of jet fuels made from renewable sources, that provide greater than 50% reduction in lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions, and which can be used safely in today’s aircraft and engines. FAST-SAF will support the build out of infrastructure projects related to SAF production, transportation, blending and storage, while also supporting scoping studies related to infrastructure needs for SAF. The application period for the Notice of Funding Opportunity opened on September 25, 2023 and closed on December 4, 2023. The FAA’s target for the first round of grant awards is Summer 2024. Read the Notice of Funding Opportunity here.

DOE Announces Clean Fuels & Products Shot

To significantly reduce the negative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from carbon-based fuels and products critical to our way of life, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Clean Fuels & Products Shot™. The seventh initiative associated with DOE’s Energy Earthshots™, this Shot focuses on decarbonizing the fuel and chemical industry through alternative sources of carbon to advance cost-effective technologies with a minimum of 85% lower GHG emissions by 2035. The Clean Fuels & Product Shot™ builds on DOE’s role in the interagency SAF Grand Challenge. Learn more.

IRS Seeks Comments on Upcoming Energy Guidance

The Internal Revenue Service issued three notices asking for comments on different aspects of extensions and enhancements of energy tax benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The IRS anticipates that constructive comments from interested parties will aid the agency in drafting the guidance items most reflective of the needs of taxpayers entitled to claim energy credits. Learn more about the upcoming energy guidance.

DOE Releases Roadmap to Achieve Carbon Neutral Aviation Emissions

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today announced the release of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge Roadmap, a comprehensive plan that outlines a government-wide strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) across the U.S. airline industry. A collaboration between the U.S. Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Aviation Administration, the roadmap will spur technological innovation to produce SAF, position the country as a global leader in the emerging SAF market, and enable America to meet President Biden’s clean energy goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. Read more about the SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap objectives.

DOE Announces Nearly $65 Million for Biofuels Research to Reduce Airplane and Ship Emissions

As part of a White House roundtable to launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on producing cost-effective, low-carbon biofuels. These investments will advance technologies to create replacements for petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty forms of transportation, like airplanes and ships, and accelerate America’s path to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. Learn more about the biofuels research to reduce airplane and ship emissions.


Webinar: SAF Grand Challenge Overview and Roadmap

On Feb. 22,  2023, the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office presented a webinar about the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, a government-wide commitment to scale up production of SAF to 35 billion gallons per year by 2050, and reduce life cycle aviation greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to conventional fuel. Participants discovered how DOE is working to scale up new technologies and rapidly commercialize SAFs. Download the presentation and listen to the recording.

Related Resources

ASCENT – The Aviation Sustainability Center

ASCENT is a cooperative aviation research organization co-led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ASCENT is funded by the FAA, NASA, the Department of Defense, Transport Canada, and the EPA. The mission of ASCENT includes exploring ways to produce SAF at commercial scale, creating an industry with the potential for large-scale economic development and job creation.

Biden Administration Advances the Future of Sustainable Fuels in American Aviation

This White House fact sheet describes new actions to achieve the SAF Grand Challenge goals and other initiatives to reduce emissions from aviation.

Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI)

CAAFI is a coalition of airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers, energy producers, researchers, international participants and U.S. government agencies working together for the development and deployment of alternative jet fuels for commercial aviation. CAAFI is supported in part by the FAA Office of Environment and Energy.

Memorandum of Understanding Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge

Signed by the DOE, DOT, and USDA department secretaries, in conjunction with the EPA, this MOU launched the government-wide SAF Grand Challenge.

United States 2021 Aviation Climate Action Plan

Published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this report describes a government-wide approach to put the sector on a path toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan builds on individual and sector-wide commitments announced by the U.S. aviation industry and highlights specific actions and policy measures to foster innovation and drive change across the entire U.S. aviation sector.

USDA Sustainable Agricultural Systems Coordinated Agriculture Projects

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Sustainable Agricultural Systems program area funds $10 million Coordinated Agricultural Projects to develop new or improved approaches for the production and manufacturing of clean energy, including SAF. Several regional bioenergy projects have developed feedstocks, such as winter oilseed crops and oilseed cover crops, which can be used for SAF production. These projects take systematic approaches to address regional biomass feedstock production, logistics, conversion technologies, and the analysis of impacts on agriculture and forestry markets, rural communities, and ecosystems.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Review of Technical Pathways Report (2020)

Part I of this DOE report provides an overview of commercial jet aviation fuel, including how it compares to fuels for cars and trucks, its composition, its specification, and its certification process. Part II provides insights resulting from a study of the aviation fuel industry, challenges of and successes with the approved pathways, and BETO capabilities and R&D portfolio. The insights focus on reducing cost and optimizing the value proposition for SAF.

Related Tools

DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center

The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides information, data, and tools to help fleets and other transportation decision makers find ways to reach their energy and economic goals through the use of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and other fuel-saving measures. AFDC provides an overview of SAF production pathways.

Freight and Fuel Transportation Optimization Tool (FTOT)

This tool developed by the DOT Volpe Center is designed to analyze the transportation needs and constraints associated with fuel and raw material collection, processing, and distribution in the continental United States. FTOT can be used to explore SAF production and supply chain scenarios and how feedstock supplies can flow optimally over the transportation network.