Operators, OEMs, Fuelers Attest: SAJF Is Clean, Lower Carbon Jet-A
22 May, 2019
A panel of industry experts on 21 May explained what it means to use sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAJF) in business aircraft. To start, they marked the “huge progress” since last year’s European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE).
“Nearly half the airplanes in the static display flew here [to EBACE2019] on SAJF,” said Brad Nolen, Bombardier vice president of marketing and strategy. “This is a drop-in fuel. You can pour it right into your aircraft. All our airplanes, from the manufacturers sitting up here, can take this fuel, and when you fly on it, you will notice no difference.”
SAJF is certified as Jet-A fuel by ATSM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) and has been tested to meet all the same properties as kerosene-based Jet-A, such as density, viscosity and energy content per mass unit.
“Technologically, we are talking about the same product,” said Marcelo Goncalves, product development engineer for Embraer.
To make SAJF, molecules from biofuels are blended with kerosene-based Jet A, at a ratio of up to 50/50. The biofuel is refined from a variety of renewable feedstocks, including used cooking oil and agricultural waste.
SAJF biofuel does not have the impurities of fossil-based Jet-A, so it is a cleaner fuel, producing less sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Most importantly, it produces far lower greenhouse gas emissions.
“The benefit comes from leaving carbon molecules in the ground,” said Charles Etter, head of environmental and regulatory affairs at Gulfstream. “Instead, SAJF utilizes the carbon already in the biosphere, via recycling.”
Essentially, emissions from fossil fuels are an open loop, releasing carbon from the ground into the atmosphere. CO2 emissions from biofuels are recycled back into the natural, renewable feedstocks that they are made from.
In this life-cycle analysis, SAJF can produce from 50 to 70 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
While many operators have concerns about SAJF, in terms of their maintenance costs, their warranty and engine programs and flight performance, Juergen Wiese, chairman of the board of governors of EBAA, assured everyone listening that “there is no difference in performance.” As the head of BMW’s flight department, Wiese has flown his company’s aircraft on SAJF, saying it will become a way to align with parent companies’ sustainability goals.
Etter agreed, noting that Gulfstream has been flying on 30/70 SAJF since 2011. “At this moment in time, we’re in a leadership position in business aviation,” Etter said, “to take the sustainability of our sector to the next level.”