Sasol steps up to develop sustainable aviation fuels

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Sasol ecoFT is working on developing sustainable aviation fuels, using its Fischer-Tropsch technology.
Sasol ecoFT is working on developing sustainable aviation fuels, using its Fischer-Tropsch technology.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • Sasol's sustainability business has announced it has joined partnerships to develop sustainable aviation fuels.
  • One of these, the Green Fuels Hamburg, aims to decarbonise the aviation sector, by producing at least 10 000 tons of kerosene annually.
  • Sasol ecoFT is leveraging the group's Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert green hydrogen to sustainable carbon sources.

Sasol's sustainability business has announced two new international partnerships to develop sustainable aviation fuels.

The first is a consortium known as Green Fuels Hamburg and aims to decarbonise the aviation sector. Sasol ecoFT will be working alongside German-based energy companies Uniper and Siemens Energy and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to investigate the feasibility of producing carbon-neutral or green kerosene – a sustainable aviation fuel, in Germany.

If it is feasible, at least 10 000 tons of green kerosene will be produced annually for the aviation sector from the year 2026.

The consortium is supported by the Technical University of Hamburg, a consultant partner, the Hamburg Senate and Hamburg Airport. According to the statement issued by Sasol ecoFT, Emirates Airline has also expressed interest in using the power-to-liquid kerosene produced.

Hamburg has been identified as a good location for the large-scale project – the region is close to renewable energies and has customers in aviation.

A large-scale commercial plant to produce green hydrogen using renewable electricity from offshore wind turbines, will be built in the Port of Hamburg. The power-to-liquid fuels plant will use Fischer-Tropsch technology – that Sasol is known for – to convert green hydrogen into carbon-neutral kerosene, a sustainable aviation fuel.

"On the way to climate neutrality, green hydrogen is a key technology of the future … The market ramp-up of hydrogen is one of the most important projects in northern Germany's economic and energy policy and is of immense importance for the whole of Germany," noted Michael Westhagemann, senator for economical affairs and innovation. Sustainable aviation fuels – which reduce carbon emissions - will be increasingly important as air travel picks up.

"Green fuels based on hydrogen will play a decisive role in the decarbonisation of air transport and maritime shipping," said Jens Kerstan, senator for environment, climate, energy and agriculture. Kerstan added that Green Fuels Hamburg would also help transform Hamburg's economy and achieve its climate targets. "We therefore support the consortium and very much welcome the fact that it is helping to move Hamburg towards a climate-neutral future."

READ | Four green hydrogen projects that will refuel SA's economy

Sasol ecoFT also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with German aircraft manufacturer Deutsche Aircraft to develop technology for sustainable aviation fuel using green hydrogen.

Deutsche Aircraft is developing a smaller, efficient aircraft – the D328eco – which aims to be carbon neutral. The aircraft is scheduled to be certified in 2026 and will use green hydrogen-based sustainable aviation fuels alongside another certified sustainable aviation fuel and regular kerosene.

Helge Sachs, senior vice president of Sasol ecoFT, noted the importance of considering the whole aviation value chain to achieve climate neutrality. "Joining forces between aircraft manufacturers and fuel producers is vital, if we want to ensure that aviation becomes sustainable, while ensuring the highest possible safety standards," said Sachs.

Closer to home, Sasol is also part of a consortium known as HyShiFT, which is developing a sustainable aviation fuel in Secunda. Other partners in the consortium include German-based renewable energy company Enertrag and chemicals company Linde.

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