Tech cooperation for aviation fuels of the future

FRANKFURT/M. – Working together for a more sustainable aviation: Representatives of Lufthansa Airlines, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), Airbus, Flughafen München GmbH and MTU Aero Engines signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) in Berlin for a broad-based research collaboration on Power-to-Liquid (PtL) aviation fuels. PtL is considered the next generation of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). SAF are a crucial technological key for more sustainable flying and essential for the energy transition in aviation. The planned cooperation will combine the forces of leading aviation companies and academia to accelerate the technology selection, market introduction and industrial scaling of PtL aviation fuels in Germany.

Questions along the entire value chain, such as maintenance requirements or the benefits for local air quality, could also be addressed in the technology cooperation. Furthermore, the use of pure PtL, which means without the addition of fossil kerosene, could be tested in order to gain knowledge for the approval process.
In addition, the cooperation partners intend to examine the extent to which PtL fuels have the potential not only to save large quantities of CO2, but also to positively influence the so-called non-CO2 emissions.

“Research collaborations like this are essential for developing pioneering solutions for the climate-friendly transformation of air traffic. As Germany’s largest airline, we are firmly committed to step by step making flying more sustainable. I am convinced that we will succeed with the combined know-how from aviation and science and that we will also strengthen Germany as a business location,” says Jens Ritter, CEO of Lufthansa Airlines.

“DLR conducts research to protect the environment and the climate. One goal is the future climate compatibility of aviation. To achieve this, Sustainable Aviation Fuels are indispensable in large quantities,” says Prof. Dr. Meike Jipp, Divisional Board Member for Energy and Transport at DLR. “This is why we are developing production processes that support an economical supply of aviation and are constantly optimizing SAF. This can decisively reduce the impact of aviation on the environment and climate.”

“Sustainable Aviation Fuels play a key role in decarbonization for Airbus. Already today, our aircraft can use SAF up to a quota of 50 percent, and approval for up to 100 percent is currently underway. We are delighted about this further deepening of our cooperation. The topic of PtL requires a team effort from aircraft manufacturers, airports, research partners such as DLR and airlines,” says Nicole Dreyer-Langlet, member of the Airbus management board in Germany responsible for research and technology.

“The signing of this Letter of Intent marks an outstanding step towards a sustainable future for the entire aviation industry. With our cooperation partners from aviation, aircraft technology and research, we are resolutely committed to accelerating the development and industrial scaling of Power-to-Liquid aviation fuels. This innovative technology has the potential to significantly improve aviation’s carbon footprint, make air travel more environmentally friendly and achieve our climate targets,” says Jost Lammers, CEO of Flughafen München GmbH.

“On the road to zero-emission flying, MTU is pursuing two thrusts: the further development of the gas turbine and the development of completely new propulsion technologies. For both, SAF plays an important role in achieving the maximum climate impact reduction. They can already be used drop-in today. In the short term, large production capacities must be created. That is what we are committed to and that is why we are participating in this important technology partnership,” says Lars Wagner, CEO of MTU Aero Engines AG

Sustainable Aviation Fuels essential for aviation of the future

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are produced without the use of fossil feedstocks such as crude oil and also meet other sustainability criteria. They are essential for reducing emissions from air traffic and, in particular, its impact on climate. The range of possible raw materials and technologies for the production of SAF is wide. In addition to SAF from biogenic residues, which are currently available in small quantities, the Power-to-Liquid (PtL) process appears particularly promising from an environmental and scaling perspective. In this next generation of SAF, regenerative generated electricity, water and CO₂ from the atmosphere are used to create a syngas from which sustainable aviation fuel can be produced.

Photo: Lufthansa