#Sustainability20: LanzaJet Opens World's First Ethanol-to-SAF Production Facility & More
Weekly Roundup - 26/01/24
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the 20 most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
The hydrogen aircraft market, valued at USD 240.51 million in 2022, is expected to grow to USD 1743.91 million by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.1% from 2023 to 2030, according to the SNS Insider report.
One study found that small electric aircraft, like the Pipistrel Alpha Electro, can reduce climate impact by up to 60%. However, they present a trade-off with 50% higher mineral resource scarcity, mainly due to battery metals. The climate benefits improve over time, with electric planes becoming more environmentally friendly after 1,000 flight hours under optimal conditions.
The EU aims to use synthetic aviation fuel for decarbonisation, but no European projects have reached a final investment decision, says a study by Transport and Environment. Out of 45 identified projects, none have committed funding. The potential production capacity of these projects exceeds the required amount, but their realisation remains uncertain.
The 2023 Amazon drought, worsened by climate change and deforestation, drained rivers, fueled wildfires, and threatened livelihoods. It reduced rainfall and forest resilience, bringing rivers to record lows. Human-induced climate changes escalated the drought to an "exceptional" level, the highest U.S. Drought Monitor category. Scientists warn of more extreme droughts due to rising greenhouse emissions.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
Brussels Airlines launched new uniforms for cabin, cockpit, and ground operations staff. The new collection is inspired by sixties airline uniforms and features a contemporary yet timeless look. The uniforms are made from sustainable materials such as grapes and cacti, making them eco-friendly. The style guide has also been updated to be more inclusive.
Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has achieved its highest score to date from The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), achieving a score of 95% and being awarded a 5-star rating. Since 2018, LBA has seen a 67% decrease in carbon Scope 1 and 2 emissions and advanced its 2030 Net Zero Carbon Roadmap.
Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru prioritises sustainability, excelling in energy efficiency, water positivity, and waste management. Its biodiverse Terminal 2 and commitment to reducing plastics and carbon emissions exemplify green aviation practices.
IndiGo is collaborating with Altered, a Swedish company specialising in water-saving technologies, to equip its Airbus fleet with customised nozzles. This initiative aims to reduce on-board water consumption by up to 98%.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
In Soperton, Georgia, LanzaJet inaugurated the world's first commercial ethanol-to-SAF refinery, Freedom Pines. This facility, capable of large-scale production using sustainable feedstocks, aims to produce 10 million gallons of SAF or renewable diesel annually, with its output already committed for the next decade.
Ryanair and Enilive have signed a letter of intent for the supply of up to 100,000 tons of SAF at Ryanair's Italian airports. Enilive's SAF, produced from waste feedstocks, will contribute significantly as Ryanair aims to transport 300 million passengers annually by 2034.
Canada will invest C$6.2m in Azure Sustainable Fuels to build a SAF factory in Manitoba, which will use Canadian feedstocks such as canola and soybean oils, aligning with climate goals and boosting agriculture.
India's first pilot project to produce SAF from alcohol has been inaugurated in Pune. The project, recognised for its advanced technology, has already seen a successful Pune to Delhi flight using this biofuel.
Topsoe and Preem, Sweden's largest fuel company, have agreed to produce SAF and renewable diesel using Topsoe’s HydroFlex™ technology. Preem’s revamped Lysekil refinery in Sweden, operational by 2027, will make it one of Northern Europe's largest SAF producers.
Junheng Biology has developed SAF from kitchen waste oils by using its self-developed green and low-carbon biofuel technology. The company is China's first private enterprise to obtain SAF airworthiness approval issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Airbus and CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum have signed an MoU to develop and qualify indigenous SAF in India, using new HEFA technology and locally sourced feedstocks.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
Archer Aviation's Space Act Agreement with NASA focuses on studying high-performance battery cells and safety for the advanced air mobility and space industries. Archer's battery technology, crucial for its Midnight electric air taxi, could potentially extend to other aerospace applications, including electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) aircraft and spacecraft.
Alaka’i Technologies, backed by BMW, has developed Skai, the world's first hydrogen-powered VTOL aircraft that offers zero-emission and low-noise travel for urban and rural areas. Skai, capable of carrying five passengers or 450 kg of cargo, has a range of 650 km on a single hydrogen tank. Alaka’i has built a full-scale prototype, received FAA approval for flight tests, and is preparing for commercial launch in partnership with BMW Designworks.
Australian cleantech company Stralis conducted the first successful electric motor test at Brisbane Airport, which is a critical step towards Australia's first hydrogen-electric aircraft route in 2026, promising zero-emission flights and advancing sustainable aviation.
Electra's hybrid-electric STOL aircraft, designed for short takeoffs and landings, will carry nine passengers and a pilot up to 500 miles at 200 mph. This design promises more flexibility than eVTOLs and a smoother path to certification. Electra's prototype flew in November, with a full-scale version planned for 2026 and commercial service targeted for 2028.
Hyundai subsidiary Supernal is set to launch the SA-2, a four-passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi, by 2028. Test flights are planned for later this year, following the development of similar eVTOL vehicles by Boeing, Airbus, and Honda.
India’s MEHAIR plans to transition to hydrogen-electric propulsion by ordering up to 20 ZeroAvia ZA600 engines for 10 Cessna Caravans. Focused on seaplane services in the Indian sub-continent, MEHAIR aims to expand with amphibious and wheeled aircraft. This shift aligns with India's clean energy strategy, complementing the government’s UDAN program to enhance regional aviation infrastructure.
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