• Ron Kotrba

100 mgy SAF project in North Dakota moves closer to realization

Updated: Jun 8

The SAFuels X project intends to use agricultural oils from canola, above, grown in abundance in North Dakota, and soybeans.

A sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) biorefinery project near Trenton, North Dakota, is one step closer to being built. The Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval recently of a conditional use permit sought by the developer, according to documents on the county commission website.

Nevada-based AIC Energy Corporation plans to construct an SAF plant, called SAFuels X, scaled at 100 million gallons per year on an 87-acre site purchased in the Trenton Industrial Park south of Savage Services rail port in Williams County. Feedstocks to be used include canola and soybean oils.

According to the SAFuels X website, a limited amount of site preparation would occur beginning late this summer and if the necessary approvals, licenses and permits can be obtained, “serious construction” will occur in the second quarter of 2022 with operations commencing as soon as late next year. The primary market for the fuel, according to SAFuels X, is the defense department “although some limited amounts may also be sold locally.”

While the project’s name suggests it is focused on SAF, the plant will produce both renewable diesel and biobased jet fuel.

“When optimizing sustainable aviation fuel yield, primary product will have a volume yield of 50-70 percent of the feedstock flow,” states the company’s website. “When in diesel fuel mode, the volume yield shifts to 85-95 percent depending on the type of vegetable oil feedstock. The variation in yield will be apparent in the secondary coproducts, namely propane and naphtha.”

The North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission approved a $212,000 grant earlier this year to assist in the development of the SAFuels X plant.

The conditional use permit recently approved includes several stipulations, including requiring a permit from the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality to construct the facility, and a dozen other provisos.

Calls to AIC Energy’s John Melk and several Williams County commissioners were not returned by press time.

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