Summit Next Gen to develop ‘world’s largest’ ethanol-to-jet SAF facility
Summit Agricultural Group announced May 15 the creation of Summit Next Gen, a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production platform that it says will “revolutionize the global aviation industry” by providing a scalable supply of low-carbon jet fuel.
Summit Next Gen will utilize Honeywell's ethanol-to-jet (ETJ) processing technology to convert ethanol into SAF.
Through the project, Summit Next Gen creates an additional market for low-carbon ethanol producers and advances the sustainability goals of the difficult-to-decarbonize aviation industry.
The global aviation industry demands over 100 billion gallons of jet fuel annually and is expected to double in the next 20 years with increasing passenger demand.
Governments, companies and consumers are demanding low-carbon alternatives to traditional jet fuel; however, the current production of SAF remains challenged by the undersupply of feedstocks consisting of vegetable oils, animal fats and waste oils.
The ETJ pathway provides a scalable and cost-competitive solution now to solve this problem, and this is largely attributable to advancements undertaken by ethanol producers who have continued to reduce their carbon footprints through adoption of new technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and investments to boost efficiency.
Growing low-carbon markets, recent state-level programs and incentives created under the Inflation Reduction Act that are broadly supported by the biofuels, energy and aviation industries catalyzed the creation of Summit Next Gen to meet growing demand for SAF.
SAF is nearly identical to petroleum-based jet fuel sources and is currently approved at blend rates up to 50 percent by ASTM International providing a drop-in fuel solution.
"The creation of Summit Next Gen and our partnership with a technology leader like Honeywell UOP sets a new standard for the agriculture, ethanol and aviation industries," said Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. "The agriculture and ethanol industries have a long history of continuous improvement producing more with less, and this has enabled forward-thinking ethanol producers to be favorably positioned for the present challenge of helping aviation reduce its carbon footprint."
Summit Next Gen will be located in the U.S. Gulf Coast region, providing access to significant logistics and utility infrastructure.
The company is advancing engineering and design and has selected Burns & McDonnell in collaboration with Honeywell for the development of the transformational project.
"Replacing fossil fuels with SAF enables a material reduction in aviation-related GHG emissions,” said Barry Glickman, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions. “Expanding SAF feedstocks to include ethanol, biomass and CO2 is essential to increasing the share of SAF of the total jet-fuel demand. We are delighted to collaborate with Summit Next Gen to combine Honeywell UOP ETJ technology with Summit Agricultural Group's experience in low-carbon biofuels to help the aviation industry accelerate its decarbonization."
Justin Kirchhoff, president of Summit Ag Investors, added, "ETJ is a natural next step for the ethanol industry. Scale, cost of production and carbon footprint are the most important factors for the SAF industry, and we believe ethanol has a material advantage in these areas relative to existing SAF feedstocks."