The term “SAF” (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) often crops up in the climate debate. Many people think of the fuels used in road transport, such as biodiesel, which is not a full substitute for diesel due to its chemical composition and is only added in small proportions. SAF is different: it does not contain any substances that are not also found in conventional kerosene; it only lacks certain components such as aromatic compounds. As a result, the maximum admixture rate is high, at 50%.
Each process for the production of SAF is subject to a comprehensive approval procedure, which ensures that no aviation risks arise from the use of these fuels. Lufthansa has been a pioneer in SAF testing for a decade.
So far, SAF has mainly been produced from biomass. One objection to the use of biofuels is the competition with food production, since fuels such as biodiesel are mainly produced from crop plants (e.g. rapeseed). With alternative kerosene, the use of such plants has been avoided from the beginning. It is manufactured using materials such as waste grease from agricultural production. This also applies to the kerosene purchased by Lufthansa Group. On a global scale, however, this is nowhere near enough to cover demand.
Aside from fuels made from biomass that does not compete with food production, SAF also includes electricity-based fuels, which use electricity generated from renewable resources to re-energise atmospheric carbon dioxide and convert it into fuel. However, these methods are also still under development.
So far, industry-wide use is constrained by availability, since only a few refineries worldwide produce SAF. An additional obstacle is the price, which is several times higher than that of conventional kerosene. The Lufthansa Group offers passengers the option of voluntarily offsetting carbon emissions by purchasing SAF through the website https://compensaid.com.
Photo: Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel – one way to mitigate carbon footprint