Canadian Manufacturing

Enerkem produces sustainable aviation fuel from forest biomass

The production of sustainable aviation fuel from end-of-life materials has emerged as a potential solution for aviation industry's efforts to reduce its GHG emissions

November 15, 2021  by CM Staff

MONTRÉAL— Enerkem, a producer of biofuels from waste materials, has converted carbon from forest biomass into sustainable aviation fuel using its proprietary thermochemical process. This process was completed at Enerkem’s Innovation Centre in Westbury, Quebec.  It will be followed by the demonstration phase, which will lead to commercialization in the near future.

According to a company statement, this research is part of The Sky’s the Limit Challenge organized by Natural Resources Canada and for which Enerkem was selected as a finalist.

Enerkem stated in a press release that the aviation sector alone accounts for 3 per cent of total global GHG emissions and its carbon footprint appears difficult to reduce. With support from the Renewable Transportation Fuels Regulation, the production of sustainable aviation fuel from end-of-life materials has emerged as a potential solution for aviation industry’s efforts to reduce its GHG emissions and eliminate them completely by 2050.

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. As part of “The Sky’s the Limit Challenge,” Enerkem has chosen a fourth source: forest biomass.

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“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 per cent compared to conventional fuel. This breakthrough will allow travellers to take flights that emit significantly less GHGs,” says Michel Chornet, Enerkem’s Executive Vice President, Engineering, Innovation and Operations, in a company press release.

According to a company statement, Enerkem’s aviation fuel is currently in the certification process for Canadian, American and European authorities. The company also stated that it has the infrastructure in place to move to the commercialization stage (plant in Edmonton and innovation centre in Westbury) and will be able to proceed as soon as the market conditions are met.

Agroforestry captures atmospheric CO2 and, through photosynthesis, water and nutrients, converts the carbon in the CO2 into biomass molecules.