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Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Summit Next Gen to develop world’s largest Ethanol-to-Jet facility

Summit Next Gen to develop world’s largest Ethanol-to-Jet facility
Summit Agricultural Group (SAG) launches Summit Next Gen, a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) platform to develop the world's largest Ethanol-to-Jet (EtJ) facility (photo courtesy SAG).

US-headed diversified agribusiness operator and investment manager Summit Agricultural Group (SAG) has announced the creation of Summit Next Gen, a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production platform that SAG says "will revolutionize the global aviation industry by providing a scalable supply of low-carbon jet fuel."

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According to a statement, Summit Next Gen will utilize Honeywell’s Ethanol-to-Jet (EtJ) processing technology to convert ethanol into SAF.

Through the project, Summit Next Gen creates an additional market for low-carbon ethanol producers and advances the sustainability goals of the difficult-to-decarbonize aviation industry.

The creation of Summit Next Gen and our partnership with a technology leader like Honeywell UOP sets a new standard for the agriculture, ethanol, and aviation industries. The agriculture and ethanol industries have a long history of continuous improvement producing more with less, and this has enabled forward-thinking ethanol producers to be favorably positioned for the present challenge of helping aviation reduce its carbon footprint, said Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group.

Tapping into the ethanol pool

The global aviation industry demands over 100 billion (US) gallons 378.5 billion litres) of jet fuel annually and is expected to double in the next 20 years with increasing passenger demand.

Governments, companies, and consumers are demanding low-carbon alternatives to traditional jet fuel; however, the current production of SAF remains challenged by the undersupply of feedstocks consisting of vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste oils.

The ETJ pathway provides a scalable and cost-competitive solution now to solve this problem, and this is largely attributable to advancements undertaken by ethanol producers who have continued to reduce their carbon footprints through the adoption of new technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and investments to boost efficiency.

Growing low-carbon markets, recent state-level programs, and incentives created under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that are broadly supported by the biofuels, energy, and aviation industries catalyzed the creation of Summit Next Gen to meet the growing demand for SAF.

SAF is nearly identical to petroleum-based jet fuel sources and is currently approved at blend rates up to 50 percent by ASTM International providing a “drop in fuel” solution.

ETJ is a natural next step for the ethanol industry. Scale, cost of production, and carbon footprint are the most important factors for the SAF industry, and we believe ethanol has a material advantage in these areas relative to existing SAF feedstocks, said Justin Kirchhoff, President of Summit Ag Investors.

Advancing engineering and design

Summit Next Gen will be located in the US Gulf Coast region, providing access to significant logistics and utility infrastructure.

The company is advancing engineering and design and has selected Burns & McDonnell in collaboration with Honeywell for the development of the transformational project.

Replacing fossil fuels with SAF enables a material reduction in aviation-related GHG emissions. Expanding SAF feedstocks to include ethanol, biomass, and CO2 is essential to increasing the share of SAF of the total jet fuel demand. We are delighted to collaborate with Summit Next Gen to combine Honeywell UOP ETJ technology with Summit Agricultural Group’s experience in low-carbon biofuels to help the aviation industry accelerate its decarbonization, said Barry Glickman, VP and General Manager for Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions.

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