Celebrating the first anniversary of a “Climate Quantum Leap”
It has been a year since the vessel Oliver Leavitt entered the San Francisco Bay Area carrying the very first load of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) produced at Neste’s production partner facility in Houston. This SAF delivery was the first one in North America for Neste and it was headed to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), one of the busiest airports in the world.
This first shipment began our journey of continuous supply of SAF blends to a major airport with the same, existing infrastructure used to supply conventional jet fuels, which SFO airport has hailed as a “Climate Quantum Leap.” Now Neste MY SAF is available to the commercial, cargo and business aviation entities that operate at the airport, including major airlines like Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways.
This use case of SAF at a major airport demonstrates SAF’s high compatibility. SAF is a drop-in fuel, when blended with conventional jet fuel, it can be used in the same infrastructure and engines without any further modifications. Similarly to conventional jet fuel, SAF also has to follow strict sampling and handling procedures. It is important to note that jet fuel specifications do not define quality assurance and handling procedures. Instead, all of these procedures are defined elsewhere; e.g. in ICAO 9977, EI/JIG Standard 1530, JIG 1, JIG 2, API 1543, API 1595, and ATA-103. Neste follows JIG guidelines when handling SAF.
One key operation that needs to be performed is the blending process. Prior to shipping SAF to SFO airport or into any existing infrastructure for delivery, it has to be blended with conventional jet fuel that meets ASTM 1655. Neat SAF needs to be segregated from the delivery system until it is blended and certified. SAF blends are certified to ASTM 7566 Table 1 and also meet the requirements of ASTM 1655. Neste SAF can be blended up to 50% with conventional jet fuel.
The ASTM D7566 specification governs the manufacturing of SAF or fuel containing synthetic hydrocarbons. This specification governs the properties of SAF similar to ASTM D1655 for conventional jet. The ASTM D7566 specification has been developed over many years following a strict testing regime and approval process deemed to be safe for use in commercial aviation. The specification currently contains seven (7) approved pathways to produce a jet fuel containing synthetic hydrocarbons. In addition, ASTM 1655 defines two pathways for co-processing, allowing up to 5% renewable content to be processed simultaneously with crude oil in a conventional refinery.
Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel falls under one of the seven pathways in the ASTM D7566 Annex A2 production of synthetic hydrocarbon using Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids, Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene or the HEFA-SPK process. In this process, triglycerides generally found in waste fats, oils and greases are hydrotreated, isomerized and distilled to produce jet fuel.
Produced from renewable raw materials, SAF reduces GHG emissions significantly over its lifecycle and also lowers non-CO2 emissions such as particulate matter (PM) and sulphur dioxide (SOx). PM forms from combustion of aromatics in the jet fuel. Since SAF has no aromatics this leads to reduction of PM emissions. This reduction will lead to less air pollution around the SFO airport and neighboring communities.
SFO is a major international airport with multiple airlines flying in and out. The supply of SAF blends to the airport now allows these airlines to have continuous access to sustainable fuel and lower their emissions without changing their fuel delivery procedures. Since the delivery of the first batch of Neste MY SAF, Neste has supplied around 3.5 million gallons (10 kt) of neat SAF to the SFO airport to date, which amounts to about 25 KT of CO2 reduction. This is equivalent to about 439 zero emissions flights from San Francisco to New York. The launch of SAF supply at SFO was a really exciting and major accomplishment for Neste and the industry. I am honored to celebrate the first anniversary of this important milestone and looking forward to the brighter and low-carbon future of our industry.
Written by Pratik Chandhoke
Technical Service Manager, Renewable Aviation