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World’s first in-flight study of commercial aircraft using 100% SAF shows significant non-CO2 emission reductions

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Results from the world's first in-flight study of the impact of using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in both engines of a commercial aircraft show a reduction in soot particles and formation of contrail ice crystals compared to using conventional Jet A-1 fuel.

Compared to a reference Jet A-1 fuel, the number of ice crystals per mass of unblended SAF consumed was reduced by 56%, which could significantly reduce the climate-warming effect of condensation trails – also known as contrails.

Global climate model simulations, conducted by DLR, were used to estimate the change in the energy balance in Earth’s atmosphere – also known as radiative forcing – by contrails. The impact of contrails was estimated to be reduced by at least 26% with 100% SAF use compared to the Jet A-1 reference fuel used in ECLIF3. These results show that using SAF could significantly reduce the climate impact of aviation in the short term by reducing non-CO2 effects such as contrails, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as O2 emissions over the life cycle of SAF when compared to using fossil jet fuel.

“SAF is widely recognised as a crucial solution to mitigate the climate impact of the aviation sector, both in the short term as well as the longer term. The results from the ECLIF3 study confirm a significantly lower climate impact when using 100% SAF due to the lack of aromatics in Neste’s SAF used, and provide additional scientific data to support the use of SAF at higher concentrations than currently approved 50%,” said Alexander Kueper, Vice President Renewable Aviation Business at Neste.

"The results from the ECLIF3 flight experiments show how the use of 100% SAF can help us to significantly reduce the climate-warming effect of contrails, in addition to lowering the carbon footprint of flying – a clear sign of the effectiveness of SAF towards climate-compatible aviation”, said Markus Fischer, DLR Divisional Board Member for Aeronautics.

“We already knew that SAFs could reduce the carbon footprint of aviation. Thanks to the ECLIF studies, we now know that SAF can also reduce soot emissions and ice particulate formation that we see as contrails. This is a very encouraging result, based on science, which shows just how crucial sustainable aviation fuels are for decarbonising air transport,” said Mark Bentall, Head of Research and Technology Programme, Airbus.

"Using SAF at high blend ratios will form a key part of aviation's journey to net-zero CO2. Not only did these tests show that our Trent XWB-84 engine can run on 100% SAF, but the results also show how additional value can be unlocked from SAF through reducing non-CO2 climate effects as well,” said Alan Newby, Rolls-Royce, Director Research and Technology.

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