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The aviation sector is under fire: CO2 emissions must be sharply reduced. One of the ways to achieve this is to replace fossil jet fuel with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), for example, made from lignin from residual flows such as waste wood and tomato stems.
Editorial office / Wageningen

Lignin expert Richard Gosselink of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research sees interesting opportunities for making aircraft fuel sustainable: “Lignin fractions in biobased residual streams contain components that can replace fossil components in paraffin. We just need to reprocess those components to make them suitable for this application.”

In the TKI project Lignin2jetfuel, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands is working together with Renewi, Sekab Biofuels & Chemicals from Sweden, Q8 Research & Technology, TU Eindhoven spin-off Vertoro and TU Eindhoven itself. Renewi supplies residual wood and tomato stems. Sekab supplies bioethanol and lignin as a residual flow from the paper industry and carpentry factories. Vertoro uses it to produce lignin oil.

Gosselink and his colleagues will convert the lignin from biomass into cyclic compounds, also known as cycloalkanes, via catalytic conversion. Their colleagues in Eindhoven are also testing new catalysts and process conditions to make the desired cyclic compounds from the lignin fraction. Q8Research takes care of the final step in the process: using hydrogen treatment to improve the quality of biobased fuel components.

The project is in line with the efforts of the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Union to halve CO2 emissions from the aviation sector by 2050.

For more information, visit the website of Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

Image: Egoreichenkov Evgenii/Shutterstock