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LTU to head Swedish forest-derived "well-to-wing" biojet feasibility study

In Sweden, Luleå University of Technology (LTU) has been granted funding by the Swedish Energy Agency for a preparatory study to test the production of biojet fuel derived from forest industry residues including testing on commercial flights in Sweden. The preliminary study will facilitate and risk minimize a first commercial plant for the production of aviation biojet fuel from Swedish forest–based residues.

Luleå University of Technology (LTU) has been granted funding by the Swedish Energy Agency for a preparatory study to test production of biojet fuel derived Swedish forest–based residues including testing on commercial flights in Sweden. SAS is one of the project partners.

The partners in the project cover the entire value chain, from feedstock to end-user. Partners include the Scandinavian air carriers SAS and BRA, Netherlands-headed sustainable aviation fuel supplier SkyNRG, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Germany-headed technology providers Ineratec GmbH and ARVOS GmbH (Schmidtsche Schack), forest industry major Smurfit Kappa Piteå, forest owner Sveaskog, Fly Green Fund, and the Swedish Bioenergy Association (Svebio).

Swedavia, owner and operator of airports in Sweden and airline KLM have endorsed to project with written letters of support letters and will follow the progress of the project.

As the Swedish Energy Agency noted in the grant approval letter, the project has the potential to contribute to the development and increase use of sustainable biofuels for aviation in Sweden. Awarded under the Agency’s Sustainable Biofuels for Aviation (Hållbara biobränslen för flyg) programme, the grant covers up to SEK 2.6 million (≈ EUR 260 000) of eligible costs, around 58 percent of the estimated project budget.

The aim of the entire project is to provide a technical and economic validation of the concept; to fly commercially on biojet fuel on Swedish forest–based residues. The result of the study will clarify the prerequisites for a demonstration of the full value chain from forest-based raw materials to aviation bio jet fuel, and can be seen as a pre-emptive step towards the actual use of biofuels in commercial airplanes in Sweden. We want to show that this concept works in practice, and not just on paper, said Fredrik Granberg, Project Manager and Researcher, Energy Engineering at Luleå University of Technology (LTU).

Gasification and Fischer-Tropsch pathway

The Agency also considers the study as important for evaluating and analyzing the conditions and potential of renewable aviation fuel production through gasification followed by Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis. Researchers at LTU believe that gasification of forest-based residues followed by FT technology and the processing of products is the most relevant and promising in the Swedish perspective in the coming years in terms of technology maturity, raw material availability, sustainability and cost.

The efficiency of green products from the two most promising forest biomass feedstock’s, branches and tree tops (GROT) and black liquor, is about 40 percent with FT technology.

We believe that the concept provides the shortest and most sustainable starting distance to produce large volumes of biofuel for commercial flights in Sweden, Fredrik Granberg said.

According to Granberg, the concept can also be developed to more than double the amount of biofuels derived from the same amount of biomass with the addition of green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis of water using renewable electricity.

The preliminary study, granted by the Energy Agency, involves technical investigation of manufacturing technology for a possible demonstration project at LTU Green Fuels, a fuel certification, investigation of the biofuel supply chain to efficiently delivery to Swedish airports, planning field tests in aircraft and investigating how a business plan should look forward to being able to support a commercialisation of the manufacturing technology.

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