• Ron Kotrba

Germany funds new consortium to develop novel process technology for SAF production


A consortium of five companies has formed the Methanol-to-SAF project (M2SAF) and is receiving 3.1 million euros in funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport (BMDV) to develop a novel process technology to facilitate the selective production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).


Founding members of M2SAF reach across the entire value chain and include BASF Process Catalysts, Thyssenkrupp Uhde, OMV, DLR and ASG.


This new production process to be developed should generate only minimal additional CO2 emissions and integrate easily into existing production plants. The starting point of the process is sustainably produced methanol from CO2 and green hydrogen.


The two-and-a-half-year development project had a successful start in August with its first activities, according to Vienna, Austria-based oil and gas company OMV.


A development platform for power-to-liquid (PtL) fuels, which will demonstrate production on a semi-industrial scale and support the market ramp-up of PtL fuels, is being coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by the project lead VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH.


“We are pleased to see the bundled know-how and the initiative of the renowned industrial companies in the M2SAF consortium, companies who want to jointly drive innovation and technologies in order to effectively support the decarbonization of air transport and thereby the climate goals of our federal government”, said Oliver Luksic, parliamentary state secretary to BMDV. “The fact that the development project plans to use existing industrial facilities promises a quick realization of the M2SAF project, along with scalability of production to industrial levels. These are crucial factors in providing the best support in our transformation to net-zero carbon.”


In addition to catalyst and process development, plant integration and the design of a demo plant, the project also includes technoeconomic and environmental analyses as well as related support for the certification and analysis of new jet fuels.


SAF are a sustainable alternative to conventional kerosene and can be used as drop-in fuel without any modifications to the engines or infrastructure. Numerous technologies based on the use of sustainable biomass or on renewable energies are currently under development.


European aviation fuel legislation also mandates the use of SAF (of biological and nonbiological origin) by 2030.


“One thing all current SAF types have in common is that they are used in a blend with conventional kerosene,” OMV stated. “However, depending on the production route, the blend is usually limited.”


Martijn van Koten, OMV executive officer of refining, added, “OMV aims to become a leading supplier of sustainable fuels, chemicals and materials. The development of new production routes for sustainable aviation fuel from CO2 and green hydrogen are crucial for a successful transformation. That’s why we are excited to be part of the M2SAF consortium and look forward to rapidly advancing the development and production of SAF based on green methanol, scaling it up, and making it available to the market. The handover of the funding certificate by the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport, State Secretary Oliver Luksic, once again underlines the importance of the project and represents an important milestone for our M2SAF consortium.”


Cord Landsmann, CEO of Thyssenkrupp Uhde, said, “As part of the consortium, we are pleased to be able to support an important step towards climate-neutral mobility. As a globally active plant engineer and builder, we can use this stimulus project as an effective and synergic way to expand our sustainability strategy around our green technologies for the production of hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. Based on our expertise and current R&D activities, we would also like to make an important contribution to the successful energy transformation in the downstream area with new processes for the sustainable production of chemicals and fuels.”


Detlef Ruff, senior vice president of BASF Process Catalysts, said, “We are proud to be able to advance sustainable solutions together with our partners in the M2SAF project. To address climate change, we will develop alternatives to fossil fuels. Catalysts will play a central role on the path to net zero as they will in this project as well. The M2SAF project thereby offers an excellent opportunity to play our part and contribute our knowledge. Based on our many years of experience in the development and production of catalysts, we want to help shape the project successfully.”

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