A consortium involving Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Neste has undertaken a world-first study in which 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) was used in both engines of a commercial jet.  The consortium, which also includes researchers from the University of Manchester, expects to publish the results in the late 2022 or 2023, but we do have a taste of the initial results and they look good.

Aircraft are currently only allowed to operate on a 50% blend of SAF and conventional jet fuel, so if the final results of this study are positive, this may allow the amount of SAF allowed to be used in aviation fuel to be increased which will in turn reduce the climate impact of aviation.  

The initial results are promising as it was found that SAF releases fewer particulates at all engine operating conditions.  Also, since SAF has higher energy density than conventional jet fuel, this can lead to further efficiency improvements as less mass of fuel can be used for the same flight.

SAF has the potential to be hugely beneficial to the aviation industry's attempts to decarbonise air travel and I look forward to seeing the results of further studies in this area.  SAF can further decarbonise the industry by further advancements in how the SAF itself is created, possibly with an expansion in the types of feedstock which can be used that would otherwise go to waste or by the integration of green hydrogen production and CCUS in the refinery where the SAF is made.

Initial findings from a world-first study of the impact of 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both engines of a commercial jet have provided promising early results.


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