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Sustainable Aviation Fuel Interagency Working Group

UPDATE 9/09/2021: Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge Announced

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge is the result of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launching a government-wide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will attempt to reduce the cost, enhance the sustainability, and expand the production and use of SAF while:

  • Achieving a minimum of a 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel.
  • Meeting a goal of supplying sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050.

Learn more about the DOE/DOT/USDA MOU and the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge website.

Read the White House Fact Sheet, "Biden Administration Advances the Future of Sustainable Fuels in American Aviation."


The Biomass Research and Development Board's Sustainable Aviation Fuel Interagency Working Group’s goals include:

  • Ensuring aviation biofuel research and development efforts reflect critical needs
  • Advancing a revised and coordinated federal research and development roadmap on sustainable aviation fuels
  • Developing and scaling best practices to foster the success of sustainable aviation fuels in commercial, business, and military aviation sectors.

What Are Sustainable Aviation Fuels?

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are drop-in fuel blending components derived from renewable or waste-based feedstocks that, relative to petroleum-based fuels, provide reduced CO2 emissions. SAFs can increase the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of aviation operations. They are an important bioeconomy market because they can be produced from multiple biomass feedstocks and conversion pathways, and are compatible with existing aviation engines, distribution infrastructure, and storage facilities.

Alaska Airlines plan at an airport
Alaska Airlines Flight 4 arrives at Reagan National Airport, in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. 1,000 gallons of biofuel produced from discarded tree limbs and branches were blended with the standard aviation fuel used for this flight. Photo by Lance Cheung, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Why Are SAFs Important for the Bioeconomy?

The aviation sector is highly motivated to use cost effective SAFs for commercial, business, and military sectors because of the economic growth, job creation, and environmental benefits they offer. Availability of SAFs are critical for the aviation industry to meet significant international carbon reduction commitments that have been made by the sector.

What Are the U.S. Government’s Goals for SAFs?

The federal government has several goals for expanding SAFs. These include:

  • Sharing information and key findings among federal agencies and coordinate 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.

Federal agencies involved in this area include:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Federal agencies support many activities to expand the use of SAFs, including:

  • Fuel performance and safety evaluation and specification development with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International)
  • Development of SAF feedstocks and supply chains
  • Optimization of SAF production processes and economic and environmental assessments.

What Progress Has Occurred?

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Interagency Working Group has made the following progress to help the adoption of SAFs:

  • Coordinated agency information exchange and stakeholder engagement to understand industry developments
  • Collaborative interagency research, outreach, and education programs
  • Issuance of relevant reports that might be of interest to the SAF research, production, and end-user communities.1

 

 

References

1. Bioenergy Technologies Office. 2020. Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Review of Technical Pathways. DOE/EE-2041. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/09/f78/beto-sust-aviation-fuel-sep-2020.pdf