2023 – the year of e-fuels

By Dirk Singer / January 24, 2023

Our new Sustainable Aviation 2023 Trends report looks at how and why the battle for climate action is expected to grow more heated this year and what visionary executives can do to stay ahead. Download the full report here.

Right now, almost all Sustainable Aviation Fuel is a biofuel made out of feedstocks like waste cooking oil or agricultural material. But long term, the industry is placing a lot of bets on so-called E-Fuels, made from renewable energy sources.

E-Fuels (or Power-to-Liquid fuels), in theory, aren’t restricted by limitations of feedstock quantities. And by using renewable energy, they are also cleaner.

However, one of the biggest issues around E-Fuels is that, as things stand today, their production would require a huge amount of power.

A paper by Ben James and Craig Douglas of World Fund estimated that replacing 8% of European aviation fuel in 2040 with E-Fuels would use the equivalent of “the entire electricity consumption of Sweden or the Netherlands.”

As a result, expect to see a number of players in 2023 try to resolve what would otherwise be an E-Fuel dealbreaker.

One example is the Swiss company Synhelion, which is working with the Lufthansa Group. The company uses solar fuel cells in E-Fuel production without needing to produce electricity first.

Similarly, other companies seek to bypass the conventional, almost 100-year-old Fischer-Tropsch method of making synthetic fuels. Prometheus Fuels, for example, seeks to create thousands of modular E-Fuel production units, where the fuel is made via an ethanol-based pathway.

Meanwhile, Air Company, which is working with JetBlue, says it has turned a multi-stage process (the case with Fischer-Tropsch) into a single-step process.

E-Fuel companies to look out for in 2023 are Air Company, Dimensional Energy, Prometheus Fuels, Synhelion, and Twelve.

Download the full report to read about other 2023 sustainable aviation trends.

Report: 11 Sustainable Aviation Trends For 2023

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