Sustainable flying is within reach with green aviation fuel.
Green transition

One step closer to sustainable aviation fuel

The aviation fuel of the future might very well be green. This is the conclusion of a report that NIRAS has contributed to. By combining biogas, CO2 and hydrogen in an innovative manner, we are not far from creating sustainable aviation fuel. And a plane ticket will not exceed the price level of 2013.

07. Nov 2019

Things are looking good for the green transition. Within a few years, climate neutral aviation fuel might be commercially available. This is the conclusion of a new study, which was conducted by Nordic Initiative for Sustainable Aviaiton (NISA), the University of Southern Denmark, and NIRAS.

To create sustainable aviation fuel, you need biogas, hydrogen, and CO2. The biogas is extracted from biomass, such as straw and manure or other types of organic waste. The biogas will be converted to methane, which will then in turn be converted to aviation fuel with the help of hydrogen and CO2. CO2 can be harvested from the atmosphere, but it can also be captured in the flue gas from waste incinerator plants.

During the production of the sustainable aviation fuel, heat will be generated as a by-product. This heat can be utilised in district heating systems. In the same fashion, excess methane and hydrogen can be stored in the gas grid until the day we need it. Other excess products, such as nutrients, can be utilized by the agricultural sector. In this way, the entire supply chain that creates green aviation fuel is sustainable and useful.

Fossil free flying.

Furthermore, the study shows that these solutions are technically mature and ready to be exploited commercially, already from 2025. “These so-called gas-to-liquid technologies make for a giant potential,” says Erik C. Wormslev, development manager for Climate, Energy and Resources at NIRAS. “With this study, we have identified the possibility to create fossil free fuel out of materials that don’t have a negative impact on our environment.”

It is likely that the green transition of the aviation sector will cause ticket prices to rise with approximately 20-30 per cent, compared to the current price levels. However, plane tickets will not exceed the price levels of a few years ago. That is why the study concludes that gas-to-liquid-technologies are the way to go.

“All we need now are players who can convert these technologies to business. The technology should not only be pushed by science. The time has come for commercial partners to also push for these technologies, “ says Erik C. Wormsev.


More information

The report is written by NISA, Syddansk Univeristet, and NIRAS. You can find the repport, ‘Nordic GTL – a prefeasibility study on sustainable aviation fuel from biogas, hydrogen and CO2’, here.