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  • Yield10 Bioscience Inc.

Yield10 Bioscience, American Airlines to collaborate on camelina as SAF feedstock

Photo: American Airlines Inc.

Yield10 Bioscience Inc. announced March 2 that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with American Airlines Inc. Feb. 27 to collaborate in developing the value chain for camelina as a low-carbon feedstock oil for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

American is committed to helping to scale SAF production as a cornerstone of its climate strategy this decade.

Under the MOU, Yield10 and American plan to work together to support the development of the camelina oil-based SAF value chain with the potential to secure offtake agreements for camelina oil-based SAF for use in the commercial-airline business.

The companies also plan to work together to support applications for government grants to support the establishment of infrastructure to support camelina oil as a feedstock to refineries producing SAF.

“SAF made from feedstocks that maximize carbon reduction is critical to our climate goals,” said Jill Blickstein, American’s vice president of sustainability. “We believe cover crops, like the camelina varieties that Yield10 is working on, could play a significant role in helping us decarbonize. Since oilseed cover crops may also have other environmental benefits, such as helping reduce erosion and maintaining soil moisture, it makes them even more compelling.”

Oliver Peoples, president and CEO of Yield10 Bioscience, added, “Yield10 is developing elite camelina varieties to enable winter cover cropping and harvest of low carbon-intensity feedstock oil for the SAF market. With this new relationship in place with American, we continue to make progress toward our goal of establishing a network of collaborations across the biofuel value chain to support the establishment of camelina as a major, new source of feedstock oil for transportation fuel. We are excited to be aligned with American on the potential for camelina to play an important role in sustainably decarbonizing SAF. We look forward to working closely with American to establish the performance profile of camelina feedstock oil and to develop the value chain for SAF from field to flight.”

Most SAF in production today is made from low-value feedstocks that include inedible plant oils, used cooking oils, waste fats and agricultural residues. When blended with at least 50 percent petroleum-based jet fuel, SAF is considered a drop-in fuel that can be used by commercial aircraft.

It meets the same safety and performance standards as petroleum-based jet fuel, but with up to 80 percent less greenhouse-gas emissions when measured on a lifecycle basis.

As part of the energy transition, a substantial increase in biofuels capacity in the United States is currently underway.

It is expected that the increase in biofuel-feedstock demand over the next few years to be filled mainly by feedstock oils, including oil from cover crops.

Camelina’s low-carbon footprint, and ability to be grown as a cover crop on otherwise fallow land, make it an attractive choice to fill the biofuels feedstock-supply gap.

Camelina sativa, commonly known as camelina or false flax, is an annual oilseed plant in the mustard family that is native to Europe.

Camelina has the potential to replicate the development of modern canola from rapeseed on an accelerated timeline based on modern technologies, including genomics and genome editing.

Additionally, camelina grows on marginal lands, displays early maturation, has enhanced drought and cold tolerance, and requires fewer inputs than other oilseed crops.

With social conscience and sustainability in mind, Yield10 is leveraging its innovations in camelina to use it as a platform crop for producing low-carbon feedstock oil for biofuels, including SAF; omega-3 nutritional oils; high-protein meal; and PHA bioplastic.

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