Home > Insights > Utilising Biofuels in Existing Infrastructure

Using Biofuels in Existing Infrastructure

An important part of the pathway to carbon-neutral transportation is the use of Sustainable Air Fuels (SAF). As it stands, roughly two-thirds of today’s kerosene consumption – which directly correlates with CO2 emissions – comes from flights operated with short and medium-range aircrafts. To truly decarbonize, the industry needs new, low-carbon new fuels as an alternative. However, with the introduction of biofuels, C02 effects can be reduced in comparison to kerosene and can provide a sustainable alternative, especially when considering its applicability.

Biofuels in Existing Infrastructure

Biofuels hold a major advantage – the advantage of being “drop-in fuels” that do not require changes in aircraft and fuel infrastructure and are applicable across all aircraft segments. As we’re aware, the path to decarbonisation includes the advancement of technologies using more ‘emission-free’ energy vectors (like hydrogen), which requires substantial time and costs. However, the introduction of biofuels allows for the re-use of already existing aircrafts, which can help drastically reduce costs and time in building new technologies.

Furthermore, The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) projects biofuel availability to be around 100 to 150 exajoules (EJ), which would be sufficient to power a large proportion of aviation. Biofuels have no limitation on the range of the aircraft in comparison to hydrogen (which requires revolutionary aircraft design from medium to long ranges), which allows for even better applicability when looking at energy sources that can help engineers maintain their assets as we shift toward decarbonisation.

Future Predictions

When looking at repurposing assets for aviation, there are several opportunities available, albeit paired with the general challenges of actualising a hydrogen economy (cost of production, regulatory use, etc). SAF are predicted to consume 75 billion litres by 2040, so the use of biofuels looks to become more prominent. Integrity and aviation engineers, however, can look forward to managing their assets with minimal changes to the design and operational life with biofuels, while maintaining the largely same risk management with the previously mentioned kerosene. As it stands, only five airports have regular biofuel distribution today (Bergen, Brisbane, Los Angeles, Oslo, and Stockholm), with others offering occasional supply. But the centralised nature of aviation fuelling, where less than 5% of all airports handle 90% of international flights, means SAF availability at a small number of airports could cover a large share of demand, which saves potential costs on new technology and improves safety/integrity (by targeting existing resources).

Contact Our Hydrogen Experts

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More insights

View all insights