CARE-O-SENE takes stage at Zeit für Klima

The pressing question of whether sustainable aviation is achievable took center stage at the recentZeit für Klimaevent under the motto "Aviation and Climate Neutrality: Can We Fly Sustainably?” in Frankfurt.

The event brought together experts from various fields to discuss innovative solutions for a greener future. Among the notable contributors was Dr. Tobias Sontheimer, co-lead of the #CAREOSENE consortium, who shared his insights on the path towards climate-neutral aviation.

During the panel discussion titled “Innovative Technologies and Quick Wins on the Way to Climate-Neutral Aviation,” Dr Tobias Sontheimer delved into the role of innovative catalyst technologies in the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). He explained how these catalysts are crucial in minimizing resource consumption during fuel production. “The existing fleet of aircraft will need to be supplied with fuel for several more decades,” Sontheimer noted, emphasizing the need for efficient and sustainable fuel solutions. “At the same time, the blending rates of SAF will change significantly over the next few years, necessitating advancements in fuel technology.”

The panelists highlighted the key role of SAF for decarbonizing the aviation sector and stressed the importance of international projects such as CARE-O-SENE to accelerate innovation cycles and the speed up commercialization. It was common sense between all panelists to achieve or even exceed these SAF blending mandates. “To achieve this”, stated Tobias Sontheimer, “we do not have the time to allow ourselves development cycles of 10 to 15 years. We have to scale the production of SAF short-term”, which the CARE-O-SENE project is aiming for.

The event was also a great networking opportunity, which allowed, Dr Dirk Schär, the other co-lead, to highlight the mission of CARE-O-SENE, that aims to contribute to making sustainable flying more cost-effective. The consortium’s research and innovations in catalyst technology are poised to play a pivotal role in the energy transition within the aviation sector. By enhancing the efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of SAF production, CARE-O-SENE is setting the stage for a future where flying can be both eco-friendly and economically viable.

The discussion at “Zeit für Klima” underscored the urgency and feasibility of transitioning to sustainable aviation practices.

Unlocking the Future of Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Insights from Dr Dirk Schaer on FT Technology, New Catalysts, and Geothermal Energy

After his recent presentation at the 5th Iceland Geothermal Conference (IGC2024), Dr Dirk Schaer, Technical Manager of Marketing and Sales Catalysts at Sasol Germany and co-lead of the CARE-O-SENE project, took time to answer three questions. He explained why the combination of Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology and geothermal energy is ideal for the economically efficient production of sustainable aviation fuel, especially when the new catalysts developed by the German-South African CARE-O-SENE project are used:

What are the primary advantages that FT technology delivers in SAF production?

Fischer-Tropsch technology stands out in SAF production due to several key advantages over alternatives:

First, FT is commercially proven and a widely used technology.

Secondly, it’s feedstock agnostic. FT technology is remarkably versatile, capable of utilizing various feedstocks efficiently.

Thirdly, it produces the highest kerosene yields, which ensures optimal utilization of limited renewable resources and has the highest GHG elimination potential.

Finally, the FT-derived route to jet fuel is already ASTM approved and Sasol have many years’ of experience in production, marketing and working with aviation authorities.

Why is it important to develop new catalysts for SAF production?

Today, we face two primary obstacles to producing SAF at scale. SAF requires a substantial amount of energy to manufacture, and more efficient FT catalysts can help us reduce those requirements – making SAF both less expensive and more sustainable.

We also need to decrease the dependence on precious metals and cobalt in the production process, and advanced catalysts can help here, too. Mitigating the need for these elements will help address concerns related to resource scarcity and cost fluctuations.

Why is the combination of FT and geothermal energy sources so beneficial?

The integration of FT technology with geothermal energy sources offers compelling advantages.

Chemical processes, including the FT process, often face challenges with dynamic operations, necessitating intermediate storage. Geothermal energy – by the way also hydropower – provides a stable energy source, circumventing these operational hurdles.

This results in significant lower investment costs and further to this reduced operational stress, positively influencing the catalyst lifetime, contributing to the overall sustainability and viability of SAF production.