- Southwest Airlines is joining the growing pack of carriers investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) startups. The Dallas-based carrier will take an undisclosed stake in Saffire Renewables, which has an U.S. Department of Energy grant for a pilot project to develop SAF from corn stover — or the leaves, stalks, and cobs left in the field after harvest. Saffire was created by ethanol producer D3max. Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said he hopes the investment could result in 5 percent of the airline’s fuel needs being met with SAF by the end of the decade.
Saffire has its work cut out for it. The initial funds will be used to “validate the commercialization of this corn-stover-to-ethanol technology;” a later phase would focus on upgrading the ethanol into SAF at an under construction plant in Georgia. One of the big concerns with SAF development is that the feedstock does not compete with human food supplies, which corn stover does not. Saffire estimates that corn stover-derived SAF could reduce lifecycle emissions by 84 percent compared to conventional jet fuel. Saffire did not provide a timeline for when production could begin.
June 6th, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT