Boeing and Alder Fuels launch partnership to 'make SAF a reality'

Aviation giant has partnered with US low-carbon fuel company Alder Fuels and will test its SAF in its planes

Aerospace giant Boeing has announced it is to team up with US low-carbon fuel specialist Alder Fuels in a new partnership with a view to expanding production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) around the world.

The companies announced their new venture yesterday at the Farnborough International Airshow, as part of an agreement that will see SAF developed by Alder tested in Boeing airplanes.

Alder Fuels’ proprietary technology comprises the conversion of sustainable forest residues and regenerative biomass into a low-negative carbon “greencrude” for jet fuel conversion.

The company said its product is suitable as a drop-in SAF, meaning it can be produced by existing refineries with their current equipment and infrastructure and used by conventional jet aircraft. It expects to complete its first production plant in 2024.

Boeing and Alder also announced that they are to use their new joint venture to advance policies to expedite the transition to renewable energy sources across the aviation industry and accelerate SAF production to meet growing demand from the global aerospace market.

“As we work toward the civil aviation industry’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we know that 700 to 1,000 times more SAF is needed in order to meet this goal,” said Sheila Remes, Boeing’s vice president of Environmental Sustainability.

“We also know that according to the US Department of Energy, US forestry and agricultural residues alone could provide enough biomass energy to generate enough SAF jet fuel to displace 75 per cent of US aviation fuel consumption. Partnerships those like with Alder enable us all to for and scale SAF supply.”

Boeing said it will support testing and qualification of Alder-derived SAF, including flight demonstrations to ensure readiness.

“Alder’s technology offers a future of gathering energy to power aircraft, instead of drilling for it, by converting a widely available sustainable biomass into a sustainable product for refining into SAF,” said Alder Fuels CEO, Bryan Sherbacow.

“We can now scale up supply to meet the aviation industry’s demand. This partnership with Boeing will expedite SAF availability around the globe, advance policies that ensure sustainability and foster environmental justice, and cultivate local adaptation.”

Boeing said that the new venture is one of a series of projects designed to make “SAF a reality.” The company conducted its first biofuel test flights as far back as 2008 and gained approval for commercial SAF use in 2011. In 2018, the Boeing ecoDemonstrator flight test program made the world’s first commercial airplane flight using 100 per cent sustainable fuels with a 777 Freighter, in collaboration with FedEx Express.

In addition, Boeing said it had also partnered with US government customers on SAF initiatives, which include SAF flight tests with the US Navy using a F/A-18 Super Hornet and an in-depth fuel study with the Air Force as part of its efforts to certify the C-17 Globemaster to use SAF.

Alder is one a growing band of companies rushing to develop jet fuels made from biomass feedstocks that could slash the carbon footprint of aviation. Advocates of the approach maintain that SAFs made using waste biomass feedstocks, captured carbon, or algaes could slash emissions as the aerospace industry continues to work on fully zero emission technologies, such as battery and hydrogen propulsion systems.

However, critics have questioned whether the fledgling SAF industry can secure sufficient biomass feedstocks to meet soaring demand from airlines without having adverse impacts on land use and overall emissions.

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