Sustainable Aviation Fuel Pilot Program Receives Additional $350,000 Funding

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


December 1, 2021

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Pilot Program Receives Additional $350,000 Funding

NREL BUS Project Team

A team of NREL scientists have developed an energy-efficient and cost-effective process to produce butyric acid from biomass, which can be used as a precursor for renewable diesel and jet fuel. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

The Bioenergy Technologies Office has awarded an additional $350,000 in funding to scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a pilot scale system for turning biomass into sustainable aviation fuel.

The NREL team has published new research about its fully integrated process to produce a fuel precursor, in this case, butyric acid, from lignocellulosic sugars, or sugars derived from dried plant material. Butyric acid is a promising precursor for diesel and jet fuel and is typically developed from a colorless, petroleum-derived gas called propylene. Through their research, the NREL scientists estimate that their biomass-derived butyric acid could result in a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional biological production routes and can be sold at 55% of the current selling price of petroleum-derived butyric acid.

This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office and in collaboration with the BETO Bioprocessing Separations Consortium.