Evaluation of Performance Variables to Accelerate the Deployment of Sustainable Aviation Fuels at a Regional Scale

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14 Scopus Citations


An increase in jet fuel consumption and its associated emissions across the world have led to the need for alternative technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). One option to produce SAFs is to utilize waste or biomass-based feedstocks that has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more compared to conventional jet fuel. However, there is a lack of understanding of how the synergistic effects of key performance variables could hinder or help the deployment of aviation fuels on a regional scale. Here, we assess the implications of key variables–including type and quantity of waste/biomass feedstock availability near the airport, cost of SAF production, life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, policies, and fuel/infrastructure logistics–on the deployment of SAF at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. We consider three ASTM International-approved SAF technologies (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids, Fischer-Tropsch, and Alcohol to Jet) that can be blended up to 50% with petroleum-based jet fuel. Results from our analysis show that woody biomass-based Fischer-Tropsch technology has the lowest fuel production costs ($2.31–$2.81/gallon gasoline equivalent) of all pathways, and it reduces life cycle GHG emissions by 86% compared to conventional jet fuel despite the higher availability of crop residues compared to either woody biomass or fats, oils, and greases. Also, infrastructure is available at O'Hare International Airport to blend SAF with Jet A fuel through three terminals directly connected to the airport via pipelines. Our sensitivity analysis shows renewable fuel incentives and feedstock price to be key performance variables affecting the production cost and deployment of SAF.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number116441
Number of pages16
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-81519


  • Biofuels
  • Lifecycle analysis
  • Renewable jet fuel
  • Resource assessment
  • Sustainable aviation fuels
  • Techno-economic analysis


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