Techno-Economic Evaluation of Strategies to Approach Net-Zero Carbon Sustainable Aviation Fuel via Woody Biomass Gasification and Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis

Ling Tao, Kylee Harris, Uisung Lee, Eunji Yoo

Research output: NRELPresentation


Reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the transportation industry is a key target for achieving global net-zero carbon goals. Wide-spread electrification, efficient engine design, and alternative fuel implementations have been introduced for light-duty vehicles and are projected to significantly reduce light-duty emissions in the near future. Conversely, the aviation sector contributes considerably towards transportation-based carbon emissions, but current projections do not show substantial reductions in carbon emissions over time. Challenges for the aviation sector include low compatibility with electrification, relative inflexibility to variations in fuel properties, and requirement of high energy density fuels. Thus, identifying pathways to decarbonize the aviation sector via liquid low- or net-zero carbon biofuels that are compatible with current aviation infrastructure is crucial. This work investigates the economic feasibility of approaching net-zero carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from woody biomass via gasification and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. In doing so, this assessment identifies the economic opportunities and trade-offs of several carbon mitigation strategies coupled with renewable resource interventions required to approach net-zero carbon fuels via biomass. Renewable natural gas and green hydrogen utilization strategies are assessed to examine the impact of fuel yield improvements versus renewable resource cost. Additionally, both carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and carbon capture and utilization (CCU) are considered in this analysis to help mitigate carbon loss to the atmosphere. Each scenario was assessed on cost, carbon efficiency, energy efficiency, and overall technology-readiness level (TRL). The results of this analysis show that renewable natural gas, green hydrogen, and CCS can be viewed as a low-cost, near-term carbon abatement strategies. However, in the long-term, deployment of more expensive and less technologically mature CCU technologies can make use of point sources of CO2 to boost overall fuel production.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the tcbiomass Conference, 19-21 April 2022, Denver, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-82703


  • aviation fuel
  • Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis
  • net-zero carbon
  • sustainable
  • techno-economic assessment
  • woody biomass gasification


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