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Airbus Announces Strategic Partnership with DG Fuels to Expand SAF Manufacturing in the US

In a bold move towards aviation sustainability, Airbus has teamed up with DG Fuels, LLC (“DGF“), an up-and-coming pioneer in the field of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). 

First flight of an Airbus Beluga aircraft powered by SAF.
First flight of an Airbus Beluga aircraft powered by SAF.

Airbus supports DGF’s plan to produce SAF from cellulosic waste and residues. This initiative coudl significantly advance sustainable aviation fuel production in the US.

“Sustainable aviation fuels are crucial in enabling aviation’s decarbonization roadmap. We are committed to supporting all efforts that contribute to making them available at scale around the globe,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “The partnership with DG Fuels supports the emergence of a new technological pathway allowing for the production of SAFs from a broader range of waste and residue sources, first in the US with a potential for large-scale production worldwide.”

Transforming Waste into Sustainable Biofuel

DGF’s fuel production system converts cellulosic waste products, such as wood waste from the logging industry, into sustainable fuel. DGF uses renewable energy sources like wind and solar power to process and convert the waste into SAF. This makes the process more sustainable.

Potential Impact: Reducing 1.5 million tonnes of CO2

The DGF plant could produce an average of 120 million US gallons (or 454 million liters) of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) annually. This volume of SAF production could reduce aviation’s carbon footprint of roughly 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions starting in 2026. 

“The DGF team is excited to have finalized this SAF partnership with Airbus,” commented Michael Darcy, Chairman and CEO at DG Fuels. “We look forward to working together to accelerate the initial SAF facility in Louisiana and the subsequent scale-up at various locations in the United States and beyond.”

The Grand Challenge: US SAF Production 

This partnership aligns with the US Government’s SAF Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge aims to lower costs, increase sustainability, and promote domestic SAF production.

The US Grand Challenge aims to produce 3 billion (11.3b liters) of domestic SAF yearly. This supply could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to conventional fuels by 2030. The long-term goal is to cover 100% of projected aviation fuel demand by 2050, equating to 35 billion US gallons.

Airbus supports DGF’s goal to raise equity to build its first Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) plant in the US. The company will make a final investment decision by 2024. The two have agreed that some of the first plant’s output will go to Airbus’ customers. 

About DG Fuels 

DG Fuels is building a synthetic fuel system that promises 97% efficiency. Its technology produces hydrogen via water electrolysis and biomass-derived carbon replacement fuel. The fuel can power aircraft, maritime, and road vehicles without requiring new engines or distribution infrastructure. Helping customers achieve their sustainability goals, DG Fuels contributes significant environmental benefits. 

Learn more: 

About Airbus and sustainable aviation fuels 

Airbus has pioneered using and advocating sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) since 2008 to reduce emissions. By 2016, it began offering customers SAF on delivery. All Airbus aircraft can fly with up to 50% SAF blend. The OEM targets supporting 100% SAF by 2030. Airbus also operates with SAF in logistics and delivery. 

Visit the Airbus website to find out more.

FAQs on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

What is the difference between SAF and traditional jet fuel?

Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) is made from crude oil. This petroleum fuel significantly contributes to the aviation industrys greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) provides an environmentally friendly option.

Key differences include:  
Emissions: SAF potentially reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases by 80% compared to ATF.
Source materials: SAF is made from renewable or waste materials.
Performance: Both fuels power jet engines without modifications, but current aircraft use SAF blends with Kerosene. The goal is to have 100% SAF-fueled planes.

What are the challenges of SAF supply for airlines?

The production of SAF currently comes at a higher cost than conventional jet fuel production. While airlines want to use more SAF blends in their operations, the existing supply of SAF is not enough.

What is the current level of SAF production? 

In 2022, SAF production tripled to 300 million liters with over 130 renewable fuel projects across 30 countries. Expected renewable fuel capacity through 2030 will be confirmed in upcoming years. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts renewable fuel production will hit approximately 69 billion liters by 2028, including Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). This is based on new refineries opening and expanding existing facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. If production reaches 69 billion liters by 2028, the trajectory towards 100 billion liters by 2030 is achievable.

What role can Governments Play in Expediting SAF Production? 

SAF production depends on a supportive policy framework from governments for renewable energy. IATA advocates for state intervention to promote SAF production. Governments can stimulate production by providing financial support and diversifying approval of SAF production methods. Aligning SAF policies (pdf) will encourage new participants to compete. So will securing capital for new technology and production facilities. 
Icon of a commercial airplane with the words 'zero emissions' and a lush forest in the background.

Did you know? 

An IATA survey revealed 85% of travelers agree airlines should be incentivized by governments to use SAF.

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