Sustainable Aviation Fuel

What is SAF?

Sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, is an umbrella term for different types of airplane fuel that aren’t made from fossil fuels. 

When we say “biofuels,” we’re usually talking about fuels made from things like plants or animals. But SAF can also be made from things that are neither plants nor animals. So, the term “SAF” is used instead to include those fuels, too.

SAF is almost exactly like regular jet fuel in terms of how it behaves chemically and physically. You can mix SAF with regular jet fuel, and it works fine. They use the same fuel supply systems at airports, and planes don’t need any special changes to run on SAF. We call these kinds of fuels “drop-in fuels” because they can be used in the existing airport systems without a hitch.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel has three important features:

It's sustainable
This means we can keep making it without running out or depleting natural resources. It's made in a way that's friendly to the economy, society, and nature.
It's not made from crude oil
SAF can be made from things like cooking oil, plant oils, waste from cities, gases, and leftover stuff from farms instead of fossils dug up out of the ground.
It works in airplanes
SAF meets all the technical and safety requirements needed for commercial planes. You don't need to change the planes or the systems that support them to use SAF.
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How to buy SAF

Today there are two primary ways to invest in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF):

The Leisure Travel/Consumer Method

This is where a traveler buys a “green fare” ticket through an airline, where the airline will then swap out the corresponding amount of fossil fuel for SAF somewhere in their ecosystem of planes. While you are probably not personally flying on the SAF you’ve paid for, you’re quite likely to be flying at least partially on the SAF that someone else has bought. This is typically measured in liters of fuel, or minutes of flight time.

This method is great for consumers because it’s the easiest to understand. $X in extra fare price = Y liters of SAF purchased.

However, standard business ESG reporting does not use liters of fuel purchased as a unit of measure, it uses tonnes of emissions reduced.


The Business Travel Method

Because legislation and market requirements require businesses to use ‘tonnes of emissions reduced’ as their unit of measure in emissions reporting, businesses generally purchase SAF credits on an exchange to simplify the accounting. 

Logistically, it works the same way as the consumer method: pay for SAF, which is then loaded into a plane somewhere else, thereby reducing the overall emissions of the aviation industry. While the plane you’re on may not be directly fueled by the SAF you bought through the credits, your plane very well might be fueled by SAF bought through another company’s credits. The net effect for the planet is the same.

On these exchanges, 1 credit = 1 tonne of C02 emissions reduced through the use of SAF. This takes into account very complex factors like Radiative Forcing Index* (RFI) and the fact that SAF itself produces emissions, so is a more complete picture of a business’s overall emissions reductions and more ready to be used in corporate reporting.

*RFI is a method of measuring the dramatically increased effect on global warming that emissions released at high altitude have compared to those at sea level


Time to take action?

Join us in supporting Sustainable Aviation Fuels and reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Together, we can make a difference.


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