All in for SAF

Editor's note from SAF Magazine, Issue 2 2023
By Anna Simet | August 14, 2023

When I look back at my career of 15-plus years of writing about the biomass energy space, there is something about the sustainable aviation fuel industry that’s just a little different than any of the other sectors. In particular, the “all hands on deck” effort seems to be one of the main differentiators, and it’s pretty exciting. Governments, academia, laboratories, financers, technology developers, fuel producers, feedstock suppliers, airlines and aircraft manufacturers—they’re all in (though there are cases to be made about longer-term commitments). And perhaps the stakes have never been higher.

A core piece of the SAF Grand Challenge puzzle is our laboratories dedicated to assisting industry. For example, the newly renovated Biomass Feedstock National User Facility, which is one of a kind. For our page-16 cover story, “A Major Upgrade,” I spoke with Lab Director Lynn Wendt about the history of the lab and its new equipment and capabilities. Combined with the assets the lab already has, the BFNUF now offers the technology, expertise and potential to help the SAF industry overcome challenges encountered during scaleup and preprocessing, particularly feedstock handling and mechanical processing.

In our page-10 technology feature, "On Top of SAF," contributing writer Susanne Retka Schill interviews Topsoe’s Managing Director for the Americas Henrik Rasmussen, who discusses the capabilities and challenges of the North America SAF industry, a major one being cost and funding.  “We have the pieces. We have the technology and catalyst blackbox. We can make SAF using many different pathways ... but we’re not the ones financing the plants," Rasmussen says. He also discusses Topsoe’s technology and other pathways, and what he believes will be needed to get more volumes of jet fuel into the market.

While there is plenty more content to discuss, I’ll end on shining a light on the upcoming North American SAF Conference & Expo being held in Minneapolis at the end of August. Coproduced by SAF Magazine and the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, the event is bringing many industry leaders under one roof to discuss the intricacies of this booming, critical industry. By the time this reaches you it will likely have passed, but we’ll be sure to take notes and provide an overview soon.

In this second-ever issue of SAF Magazine, we’re just getting started on this journey of bringing you the scoop on SAF. Reach out to me anytime with story ideas, contributing article pitches or podcast guests—I’m all ears.

Author: Anna Simet
Editor, SAF Magazine