SAF: A Takeoff Market

Brianna Croft

Jul 05, 2023  |  Today's News |  ICMB |  Biotechnology |  Ethanol |  Legislation & Regulation

Policy initiatives and technology have created a sudden shift towards sustainable aviation fuel, opening new markets within the feedstock industry. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a jet fuel that is made from biomass such as corn ethanol, soybean oil, and several other pathways. SAF is great for the enviroment and farmers. The product has equivalent properties to conventional jet fuel, but with a much lower carbon footprint. 


The use of corn-based ethanol to create jet fuel is an exciting new market opportunity for the renewable fuels industry with many companies looking at the technology to help decarbonize the aviation industry. Resources such as corn grain, oil seeds, and agricultural residue are the sustainable feedstocks in the market for producing SAF. 


By growing biomass crops for SAF production, farmers can earn money during off seasons by providing feedstock to the market while also benefiting their farms through reducing nutrient losses and improving soil quality. Airlines are dependent on fossil fuels which are affected by constant changes in crude oil prices and supply and demand issues. SAF is an alternative as production is not limited to location. This will increase the need for major producers of SAF feedstock and local, smaller supply chains will be established.  


Moving forward, the future for ethanol is bright. With the push to decarbonize the aviation industry, renewable fuels such as corn- based ethanol will be in high demand. In Illinois, Governor Pritzker signed a tax incentive, which gives airlines operating in the state the ability to claim credit for fuel purchased. The tax credit is available if the fuel achieves a reduction of at least 50% lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions when compared to petroleum jet fuel. Illinois is also moving forward with the construction of a new SAF plant in Hennepin, IL under the direction of Lanzajet and Marquis Energy. At the federal level, the Inflation Reduction Act provides a tax credit for each gallon of SAF in a qualified mixture.  


Looking forward, sustainable aviation fuel provides a new way for the future by driving the demand for corn-ethanol. This not only opens more opportunities for producers, but also helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. SAF is soaring into the market as a win-win solution for all.