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Enerkem produces sustainable aviation fuel from local forest biomass

Wood waste about to be put into a horizontal grinder
Enerkem has converted carbon from forest biomass into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using its proprietary thermochemical process.

Enerkem has achieved a major breakthrough in converting carbon from forest biomass into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using its proprietary thermochemical process. This milestone will be followed by the demonstration phase, which will lead to commercialization in the near future. 

The aviation sector alone accounts for 3 percent of total global GHG emissions and its carbon footprint appears difficult to reduce. The production of sustainable aviation fuel from end-of-life materials has emerged as a future solution that will be the cornerstone of aviation's efforts to reduce its GHG emissions and eliminate them completely by 2050. 

Enerkem's biofuel plant in Edmonton, Alberta, converts biomass and other waste to fuel.

Currently, sustainable aviation fuel can be produced from a number of sources, including waste materials, corn grain and CO2. Enerkem is working with Shell on the use of waste materials for its Rotterdam project, and as part of The Sky's the Limit Challenge, Enerkem has chosen a fourth source: forest biomass. 

"Our diligent and innovative approach in developing our forest biomass conversion technology has enabled us to produce a sustainable aviation fuel that will reduce the full life cycle carbon emissions of the aviation industry by over 90 percent compared to conventional fuel. This breakthrough will allow travelers to take flights that emit significantly less GHGs," says Michel Chornet, Enerkem's Executive Vice President, Engineering, Innovation and Operations.

Enerkem says its aviation fuel is already in the process of being certified by Canadian, American and European authorities. Enerkem already has the infrastructure in place to move to the commercialization stage and will be able to proceed as soon as the market conditions are met.

Agroforestry for sustainable aviation

Agroforestry captures atmospheric CO2 and, through photosynthesis, water and nutrients, converts the carbon in the CO2 into biomass molecules. The transformation of biomass into biofuels and marketable bioproducts represents a unique opportunity for innovation.

According to Enerkem, the benefits of this approach are numerous: creation of partnerships with regional communities, sustainable economic development, job and wealth creation in the region, diversion of urban biomass from landfill and valorization of residual forest biomass.

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