CHJ becomes the sixth pathway to SAF production
A synthetic kerosene recently became the sixth approved pathway to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by ASTM International, a global standards organization. Catalytic Hydrothermolysis Jet Fuel (CHJ) is the first pathway to SAF to be approved since 2016.
“This was a huge team effort to scale and commercialize the technology and achieve the certification of the jet fuel,” said Ed Coppola, who led ARA’s certification effort, noting the support of the original equipment manufacturers, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and organizations such as the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).
"This has been the longest approval process of any pathway--about seven and half years; it was very thoroughly tested, for commercial and military," said Chris Tindal, Assistant Director of CAAFI, in an interview with Jet Fuel Innovation News. Tindal formerly contributed to the early stages of testing of the CHJ pathway as the Director for Operational Energy for the Department of the Navy.
CHJ is produced with any lipid, triglyceride, or fatty acid-based renewable oil, including brown grease and used cooking oil. This new pathway, developed by Applied Research Associates (ARA), may be blended at up to 50% by volume with conventional jet fuel, according to Aviation International News.
The first SAF production pathway, approved in 2009, was the Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (FT-SPK), which was developed with a biomass feedstock consisting of forestry residues, grasses and municipal solid waste. This was followed by Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA), Hydroprocessed Fermented Sugars to Synthetic Isoparaffins (HFS-SIP), and FT-SPK with aromatics. Prior to CHJ, the most recent pathway to be approved was Alcohol-to-Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK) in 2016, produced with agricultural waste products, such as stover, grasses, forestry slash and crop straws.
Each of the six approved SAF production pathways represents unique processes and feedstocks with benefits, such as the availability and cost of feedstock, carbon reduction or cost of processing. Some pathways are more suitable than others in certain regions. For instance, a pathway that uses agricultural residues like straw, which largely comes from the cultivation of maize, sugar cane, rice and wheat, has by far the largest theoretical potential in China, followed by India, the United States and Brazil, according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2014 Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap.
The same IATA report states that the first test flight with biojet fuel, which has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel, was by Virgin Atlantic in 2008, and the first commercial passenger flight using SAF took place June 22, 2011. In March 2016, United Airlines became the first airline to introduce SAF into its regular business operations with daily flights out of Los Angeles Airport (LAX), supplied by AltAir. As of December 2019, more than 215,000 commercial flights by 40 airlines have used SAF.
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