A futuristic 3D model of a jet hovers over a scientist who is thinking about the design.

Hydrogen Production Alternatives for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Production

Project Number: 080
Category: Alternative Fuels

The aviation industry is under considerable pressure to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are considered the most promising approach to reduce the sector’s GHG emissions. To date, no comprehensive assessment exists which analyzes how different carbon, hydrogen, energy sources and conversion processes can be combined to produce SAF with a maximum of GHG emission reductions at the lowest possible costs. Washington State University and MIT, in collaboration with the DOE Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) will conduct research with the goals to: (1) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of hydrogen production and Power-to-Liquid (PtL) concepts; (2) assess the state-of-the-art on how hydrogen production and PtL production can be integrated with existing infrastructure (SAF production and industries); (3) analyze the cost and environmental impacts of these production pathways; and (4) synthesize the information and obtain rules on how to best combine the C, H, and energy sources with different conversion technologies to improve environmental impacts and costs.


The outcomes of this project will outline new pathways to optimize SAF production. Besides process designs, the outcomes will guide optimization of SAF production through providing quantitative data, which can support informed decision-making on the choice of SAF production pathways. This data directs stakeholders such as airlines or fuel producers in their efforts to identify the SAF production pathway designs with the most efficient use of limited input resources such as biomass, renewable electricity, or renewable hydrogen in the short and long term. As such, the outcomes of this project are expected to help maximize SAF availability and SAF environmental benefits, while minimizing SAF costs. This systematic analysis of novel pathways to optimize SAF production will also help the entire U.S. Government identify new opportunities towards increasing environmental emission reductions, lowering costs, and maximizing production. The resulting road map will help the entire aviation industry identify new research and development opportunities.

Last Updated 10/19/2021

Program Managers