Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - CORE-JETFUEL (Coordinating research and innovation of jet and other sustainable aviation fuel)

Executive Summary:
CORE-JetFuel was aimed to set up a European network of excellence for alternative fuels in aviation to bring together technical expertise and provide an integrated approach to alternative aviation fuels including regulatory aspects, research, deployment and economics. One of the main objectives of the CORE-JetFuel project was to provide the European Commission with recommendations concerning its funding strategy with respect to R&I activities in the field of alternative aviation fuels. CORE-JetFuel provided essential decision and strategy elements to achieve the best returns from future research and innovation actions in the field of sustainable aviation fuels within the constraint of uncertainty inherent to the nature of science and innovation.
In order to achieve this objective, the CORE-JetFuel project conducted a twofold assessment along the entire value chain of alternative aviation fuels. On the one hand, the performance of selected renewable jet fuel production pathways was evaluated in terms of their environmental and social sustainability, the maturity of feedstock production and conversion, the overall production potential as well as their economic viability. On the other hand, the R&I project ‘landscape’ of renewable jet fuels was evaluated in order to highlight needs in research.
In addition, deployment and certification initiatives as well as policies and regulations addressing alternative aviation fuels at Member State, European and international level have been analysed with the objective of identifying the main barriers to renewable jet fuel production and deployment. The project’s assessment activities and derived recommendations were presented to and discussed with experts in the field on occasions of the numerous CORE-JetFuel workshops that took place over the entire project duration, thereby safeguarding transparent results and minimizing potentially biased recommendations as much as possible.
Based on the assessment work and the recommendations derived from it, the CORE-JetFuel Consortium developed a set of roadmaps that feature targets for all of the project’s thematic domains for the short-, medium-, and long-term. These targets refer to potential breakthroughs in research and development of the assessed renewable jet fuel value chains that have to be achieved in the Consortium’s view on the hand, and on the other hand, to deployment and approval targets as well as strategic policy milestones.

The CORE-JetFuel project provided the European Commission with a detailed overview of current R&D activities in the field of alternative aviation fuels and presented, where appropriate, recommendations with respect to future funding strategies. These recommendations are based on a holistic and traceable assessment conducted within the project.

CORE-JetFuel served as a European Center of excellence in the field of alternative jet fuels. As a central pillar supporting this activity, a vivid exchange with stakeholders from the political and industrial sphere, from academia and non-governmental organizations was established. The dialogue facilitated by CORE-JetFuel between the different players enabled building synergies and helped in bridging gaps between the parties involved. In addition, an international cooperation liaison with North American stakeholders was initiated, thereby generating intercontinental information exchange and cooperation possibilities.

Project Context and Objectives:
For a number of ecologic and economic reasons, the aviation industry is in great need for alternative fuels. Highly ambitious goals for the reduction of the sector’s overall greenhouse gas emissions set from industry and politics imply sustainable alternative fuels as major contribution. To meet the high expectations research and innovation efforts are required in order to develop pathways for an economically feasible large-scale production of such fuels for aviation.
The transformation of its energy base from fossil fuels to a secure supply of renewable, climate-friendly, sustainable and sufficiently scalable alternative fuels represents a tremendous challenge for aviation. Many different types of renewable feedstock, most prominent biogenic materials (biomass), and various kinds of conversion technologies can be utilised for the production of alternative jet fuel.
However, at the current state of development, none of the production pathways identified so far offers the promise of fulfilling all three high-level criteria of suitability, sustainability and scalability. In fact, several alternative fuel production pathways are being researched, developed and certified as “drop-in” capable fuel technologies to best meet the “suitability” criterion which guarantees the lowest implementation barrier into the aviation system. But yet a credible scenario for a sufficiently large supply of sustainable feedstock and an economically efficient way of implementation with well-functioning market mechanisms remain major challenges.
The CORE-JetFuel project supported the European Commission in its dynamic and informed implementation of research and innovation projects in the field of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation. It linked initiatives and projects at the EU and Member State level, serving as a focal point in this area to all public and private stakeholders. CORE-JetFuel addressed competent authorities, research institutions, feedstock and fuel producers, distributors, aircraft and engine manufactures, airlines and NGOs.
By organizing numerous workshops and conferences, the project set up a European network of excellence for alternative fuels in aviation that brought together technical expertise from all across this complex thematic field and helped in coordinating R&D as well as implementation efforts.
The project evaluated the research and innovation “landscape” in order to develop and implement a strategy for sharing information, for coordinating initiatives, projects and results and to identify needs in research, standardisation, innovation and deployment, as well as policy measures at European level. Bottlenecks of research and innovation were identified and, where appropriate, recommendations for the European Commission were elaborated with respect to re-orientation and re-definition of priorities in the funding strategy. The project work covered the entire alternative fuel production chain, divided into four thematic domains: 1. Feedstocks and sustainability; 2. conversion technologies and radical concepts; 3. technical compatibility, certification and deployment; 4. policies, incentives and regulation. Both, evolutionary technologies for short and medium-term implementation as well as potentially disruptive technologies as long-term options, were analyzed.
CORE-JetFuel ensured cooperation with other European, international and national initiatives and with the key stakeholders in the field. The benefits of this approach were enhanced knowledge of decision makers, support for maintaining coherent research policies and the promotion of a better understanding of future investments in aviation fuel research and innovation.

The action provided decision makers with an informed view and with decision elements for maintaining a coherent strategic research policy and for re-defining specific priorities of research and innovation on sustainable alternative fuels.
CORE-JetFuel additionally provided stakeholders with a broad and comprehensive view of the research and innovation “landscape” in Europe, helped stakeholders to forge alliances for future research supporting activities, and will align and bring together a European community of practice.
The project promoted the translation of breakthroughs of basic research into a path for technological innovation through mapping and analysis of research projects and through an informed dialog with all relevant stakeholders. All European initiatives for alternative aviation fuels and potentially important other initiatives outside Europe were involved in the mapping and evaluation process via the network of the partners of this consortium.
The action identified research needs based on future drivers, lessons learned from past and current research projects, and from panel discussions with external experts.

Project Results:

Fuels based on biogenic types feedstock will apart from technical improvements in aircraft design be the only viable option for the aviation sector to decrease its GHG footprint in the near- to medium-term. Utilizing the different feedstocks available today for the production of alternative aviation fuels is linked to various challenges of environmental, technological, social as well as economic challenges. Taking these challenges into account, the evaluation of different types of feedstock was conducted by applying a set of assessment criteria that were established in the corresponding assessment framework in the beginning of the project.


The most important assessment criteria that were applied to feedstock cultivation and further processing included: greenhouse gas balance of cultivation, transportation and processing, amount of fertilizer application, technical maturity of the cultivation process and required machinery (Feedstock Readiness Level), impact on local biodiversity as well as the risk of inducing indirect land use changes (iLUC).

Due to the numerous options theoretically available for bio-jet production, the assessment concentrated on those types of feedstocks that have either proven their suitability for one of the five certified production pathways and are therefore actually utilized, or on so-called advanced types of feedstocks that potentially show a very good sustainability performance but are not produced at commercial scale for the aviation sector at the moment. In addition, the CORE-JetFuel Consortium agreed to narrow down the scope of the assessment work to the European context, i.e. feedstock cultivation

Corresponding to the main feedstock groups that have been identified by the CORE-JetFuel Consortium, the following feedstock sources have been assessed:

Biogenic Oils and Fats
- Microalgae
- Camelina
- Used Cooking Oils (UCO)
- Rapeseed
Lignocellulosic Biomass
- Short Rotation Coppices (SRC)
- Switchgrass
- Agricultural Waste and Residues
- Forestry Waste and Residues

The main assessment results are briefly outlined below:
Due to the vast theoretical production potential of microalgae, they have received a lot of attention in recent years by science, policy and industry alike as a promising bio- (jet) fuel feedstock. However, in order to reach the desired lipid content and overall biomass productivity, microalgae cultivation requires considerable amounts of fertilizers. In addition, keeping the aquatic biomass in motion, either in closed photobioreactors or open pond systems requires a lot of energy. From both of these requirements considerable GHG emissions emerge. Algae production particularly in closed photobioreactors is additionally technically immature and very expensive. If microalgae are to become an economically and environmentally viable feedstock for the production of alternative aviation fuels, sufficiently scalable CO2 sources for example from industry, a reduction of fertilizer as well as energy requirements will be crucial in order to reduce the price of cultivation and increase its sustainability.

Camelina is a promising feedstock for sustainable bio-jet production with a high GHG emission reduction potential of the end product bio-kerosene. Sustainability advantages of this terrestrial oil crop are its relatively low fertilizer and irrigation requirements, its adaptability to arid to semi-arid climatic conditions as well as the fact that the crop can be cultivated on marginal / degraded land in intercropping systems. However, the large range of oil yields in different regions of Europe and the currently uncertain production potential of camelina hamper its large-scale utilization as a bio-jet feedstock. According to camelina experts participating in CORE-JetFuel’s final conference, since camelina is a relatively new crop for farmers cultivating it improvements in oil yields as well as in overall production volume will be made.

Although rapeseed is not the preferred feedstock option of the aviation sector due to a number of sustainability concerns such as high fertilizer requirements with the corresponding GHG emissions, it is nevertheless the most widely cultivated energy crop in Europe, rapeseed-based biodiesel being at an economically competitive level with fossil fuels. It is for this reason that the energy crop is included in the CORE-JetFuel assessment, i.e. it serves as a reference case in terms of oil yield, production potential and sustainability performance for the other feedstocks that are subject to the CORE-JetFuel assessment. Particularly its high oil content as well as its high yields per hectare make rapeseed the most widely utilized feedstock for biofuel production in Europe. However, the unfavorable GHG balance of rapeseed production and other negative environmental impacts linked to its cultivation are all reasons why the aviation industry does currently not utilize this feedstock. If the costs of biojet production via the HEFA pathway further decrease, this might change.

Used Cooking Oil (UCO), i.e. waste oils from gastronomy are a well-established biojet feedstock that is like other waste and residue material favored by the RED, which considers their collection carbon neutral. In addition, fuels based on UCO are eligible to double-counting and therefore show a considerable GHG emission reduction potential of up to 80% compared to fossil fuels. However, seeing as the collection network is well organized and the market for UCO flourishing, the maximum availability of approximately 1Mt per year is already reached. Collecting UCO from private households could potentially increase the availability to 3Mt per year, but due to the immense challenges in collection and quality control it is not very likely that this potential will be unlocked in the near future.

Short rotation coppices (SRC) such as willow or poplar are an interesting feedstock for bio-jet production due to their fast-growing nature, low fertilizer requirements as well as a non-existent competition with food production. Negative traits of SRC include their high water requirements. In addition, particularly logistical challenges in collecting and transporting this type of feedstock may hamper its economic viability– at least with respect to large-scale plantations.

Switchgrass is a perennial grass native to North America and represents the only exception from narrowing the assessment scope down to Europe. This exemption was made for the reason that switchgrass can be grown in Europe in moderate temperatures with a series of field trials already being conducted. In addition, it is suitable for conversion into biojet via the certified Alcohol-to-Jet pathway. The perennial crop switchgrass has a series of environmental benefits including the improvement of soil health by carbon sequestration, reduction of soil erosion by improving soil quality and stability, the aforementioned low agricultural input requirements as well as less intensive agricultural management practices. As switchgrass is a non-food feedstock that can be grown on marginal land, the risk of inducing land use changes and the GHG resulting from it is assumed to be relatively low compared to other feedstocks used for biofuel production.

Waste and residues as a side product of wheat production, for example, have a series of sustainability advantages compared to those types of feedstocks that are cultivated and directly utilized for bioenergy applications. In particular the very high GHG emission reduction potential of fuels based on straw, its high availability and the low risk of inducing indirect land uses changes make it a preferred feedstock for the aviation industry. However, a strong competition exists with other bioenergy and biomaterial sectors where agricultural residues such as straw are well-established and utilized at industrial scale. Apart from industrial uses, straw also fulfills a series of on-site functions at farm level such as supplying soils with nutrients or functioning as animal bedding. Depending on indicators for calculating the sustainable removal rate of residues and their importance for soil (nutrient supply, erosion protection), the availability waste and residues can vary considerable, particularly in case of forestry residue material.

Another crucial part of the feedstock assessment was in light of aviation’s GHG emission reduction targets the evaluation of the current feedstock production potential and, more importantly, the sustainable biomass availability in Europe in the future. Taking into account the existing uses of other (well-established) biomass application sectors the importance of Europe’s sustainable biomass potential theoretically available for the aviation sector, the importance of such an assessment becomes apparent.

Depending on the sustainability criteria / restrictions applied, the agricultural residue material wheat straw shows with approximately 85 Mt/y the highest sustainable potential of terrestrial advanced feedstock types. The total straw annual straw production amounts to 315 Mt in Europe. Straw is, however, used at commercial scale in the heating and cooling sector and fulfill a series on-site functions at farm level. In addition, straw and lignocellulose collection in general is still somewhat challenging which decreases the economic viability of these feedstock types for bio-jet production. The sustainable availability of forestry residues is estimated at approximately 9Mt/y, the total annual production in Europe amounting to approximately 68 Mt. Depending on the assumed sustainability restrictions (retention rate etc.), the sustainable availability of residue material from forestry varies in the literature. The availability of SRC is in the range of approximately 10 Mt/y.

Microalgae are envisioned to have a vast production technical potential of 41 Mt/y if sufficient sources of CO2 are available, which at the same time, poses one of the main challenges to their large-scale production. To actually reach this theoretical potential a lot of research and the corresponding funding will be required.

As camelina is a relatively new crop for the production of bio-jet and most plantations are at field trial level, reliable data concerning the availability of the crop are difficult to obtain. Seed yields achieved on field trails range between 500 and 2000 kg/ha. Although camelina has proven its viability as a bio-jet feedstock, particularly the wide range in yields has to be decreased while an increase in total production volumes needs to be achieved if camelina is to become a meaningful contributor to making aviation less GHG intensive.

The availability of UCO is compared to other types feedstock very limited, as its collection is quite challenging. The share of used vegetable oils from restaurants and the like that has the required quality is additionally comparably low. Furthermore, as the collection of UCO is conducted by a variety of different players, obtaining reliable statistics stating market actors engaged in UCO collection is very difficult to obtain. Currently, approximately 1 Mt of UCO is collected in Europe annually, which is considered to be the maximum amount collectable in Europe. Theoretically, UCO from households could contribute to the overall potential, increasing it to approximately 3 Mt in the EU-27. However, seeing as the logistics (and most certainly the economics, too) of making the UCO household potential available are quite challenging, it will not be a viable option for the foreseeable future.
Despite the often-stated sustainability disadvantages of rapeseed, it was included in the CORE-JetFuel assessment not only to serve as a reference for evaluating the sustainability performance of the other feedstocks types but also for the comparison of the technical maturity of other cultivation systems, their production potential as well as economic performance. The annual production of rapeseed in Europe amounted to 22Mt in 2015, clearly showing the production potential other feedstocks have to achieve in order to decrease aviation’s GHG emissions in a meaningful way.

In addition to the feedstock assessment itself, the most prominent sustainability certification schemes, namely the RSB EU RED as well as the ISCC EU were first described individually, then compared to each other and options for a higher level of mutual recognition / harmonization identified. It was found that the advantage of harmonizing voluntary certification schemes recognized by the EC is that it provides a larger degree of flexibility in the supply of biomass from producers that are already certified by one or the other schemes. In addition, a mutual recognition of the different schemes avoids the need for certification under multiple schemes and therefore makes the process itself more cost efficient for feedstock and fuel producers, and ultimately for the end-user, for example airlines.

The same approach was applied to legally binding sustainability standards that entail mandatory sustainability criteria. Particularly for the global transport sector that is aviation a higher level of harmonization of two of the most important standards, namely the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the US-American Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) would be desirable. Since the envisioned harmonization would apply to mandatory sustainability requirements of biofuels in national legislation, it is not as easily achieved as for voluntary schemes. Nevertheless, there are areas that could potentially be streamlined, these include:
- Land conversion restrictions: Agreement on a common reference date in the RED (currently 01.01.2008) and the RFS (currently 19.12.2007) – easy to implement, no impact on compliance. The current situation is that farmers who want to export feedstock to the US have to demonstrate that the land the feedstock is grown on had been in use for the same purpose prior to 19 December 2007.

- Analysis of bio-jet pathway GHG emissions: The GHG calculation methodologies in the RED and RFS2 share a common basis, although some differences exist. Irrespective of which GHG calculation methodology is applied, alternative aviation fuels should realize significant GHG emission reductions and meet current (and future) GHG emission reduction targets set in the two standards, irrespective of which GHG calculation methodology is used. In addition, all improvements on a fossil fuel comparator should be recognized and not limited by thresholds.

- Agreement on a common (fossil) jet fuel comparator: The fossil fuel comparator is a fundamental parameter in the calculation of GHG savings. Currently, both the RED and RFS2 entail a comparator for road transport fuel, but not for jet fuel. A necessary step would be to seek a common agreement on an appropriate comparator so that GHG savings are calculated on a consistent basis.


Lastly and accounting for the evaluation of R&D activities in the CORE-JetFuel thematic domain of “feedstock and sustainability” a mapping of European projects in this field was conducted. For this purpose, the Quadrant Model of Research was applied. This model allows for the distinction of pure basic research (Bohr’s quadrant; devoted to knowledge creation), pure applied research (Edison’s quadrant; product-oriented) and use-inspired basic research (Pasteur’s quadrant). Activities located in Pasteur’s quadrant link basic science with technological innovation and are neither purely “basic” nor purely “applied” in nature.

In correlation with the project budgets, the Quadrant Model of Research gives valuable impression of the current European research portfolio in the field of feedstock and sustainability and allowed for conclusions regarding the question, where in the R&D landscape efforts should be concentrated. In line with the highly product-orientated field of research that is aviation, a clustering of R&D activities in Pasteur’s and Edison’s Quadrant was noticeable. In addition to applying Stokes’ Quadrant Model to the entire R&D landscape that was identified in the field of feedstock and sustainability, the model was also used to show the research portfolio of the different types of feedstocks individually. Generally, it has to be noted that R&D activities in this area are very rarely concerned with solely the cultivation of one specific feedstock, but rather consider an entire value chain or parts of it, for example from cultivation to conversion or improving the logistics of a certain type of feedstock.

However, especially in case of microalgae and to some degree in case of SRC, research efforts are also put in generating a deeper and more holistic understanding of plant genetics, solar radiation efficiencies as well as other vital characteristics and influencing factors without necessarily aiming at technology applications. On the other hand and again especially in case of microalgae, research of the considered projects is particularly concerned with making the cultivation and production processes more efficient in terms economic viability and energy efficiency (including the according reduction of GHG emissions) with the aim of reaching market maturity and deployment. In case of lignocellulosic biomass and residue materials, a lot of research and demonstration effort is placed on improving the logistics of making this type of feedstock available and transporting it to the processing site.

In conclusion, the R&D landscape in the field of feedstock and sustainability seems to be well-balanced, focus should be placed on bringing a larger variety of feedstocks to the market and to make use of the currently existing feedstocks that are at commercial scale.


As in case of feedstock production and sustainability, the evaluation of the European R&D landscape on conversion technologies and radical concepts comprises of a holistic assessment at technology level and a mapping of the corresponding European portfolio of thematically related R&D projects.


The following conversion technologies have been analyzed:

- Pyrolysis (Hydroprocessed Depolymerized Cellulosic Jet, HDCJ)
- Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL jet fuel)
- Fermentation of sugars to hydrocarbons (Synthetic Isoparaffinic Jet, SIP)
- Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA-SPK)
- Gasification / Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FT-SPK)
- Solar-thermochemical conversion of water and CO2 (Sun-to-Liquid, StL)
- Electrochemical conversion of water and CO2 (Power-to-Liquid, PtL)
- Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ)

The only conversion technology currently available at industrial scale is hydroprocessing of oils and fats, yielding HEFA-SPK. Two additional technologies, namely fermentation of sugars to hydrocarbons (SIP) and Alcohol-to-Jet conversion (AtJ), have reached a level of maturity that enables provision of limited quantities of fuel to airlines for demonstration flights. Importantly, AtJ and SIP jet fuels have been approved for use in commercial aviation. However, both technologies have not yet been industrially implemented for large-scale production.


In the holistic technology assessment carried out in CORE-JetFuel, production pathways based on the conversion technologies listed above in combination with certain types of feedstock were considered. The assessment was focused on a set of questions of key importance when discussing renewable fuels for aviation:

• How much can we make?
• What is the potential environmental impact, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions?
• How much would it cost?
• Drop-in capable or not?
• What is the current state of development (maturity)?

These questions were translated into key performance indicators (metrics), i.e. quantitative and measurable properties, and used for the assesment of different production pathways. In this context it is important to emphasize that there is no single most important performance indicator, as the desired solution has to fulfill several highly weighted criteria reasonably well. However, the assessemnt shows that a favorable performance in one criterion might be compromised by disadvantageous performance with respect to other criteria of equal importance.

The main challenge encountered in the course of the technology assessment was the identification, collection and analysis of relevant information sources and data. The most important sources of information were technical reports and other scientific publications, such as peer-reviewed journal articles. In some cases, information and data were also acquired through direct communication with experts or consultation of companies’ websites. For some, technically more advanced technologies, a wealth of scientific information was available, while for others the availability of data was very limited (if at all available) and sometimes restricted to non-traceable information provided by companies devoted to the development of proprietary technologies.
The quantitative comparison of technology options under such conditions is highly challenging. A comparison on a quantitative basis in principle requires harmonization of the considered data with respect to underlying assumptions and methods. However, considering the broad range of relevant technolgies and production pathways under consideration in CORE-JetFuel, was out of the scope of the project. Nevertheless, the technology assessment conducted in CORE-JetFuel yielded a highly valuable insight in the performance potentials of production pathways, as described in the following.

Useful trade-off relations between criteria were identified. In CORE-JetFuel there are the specific greenhouse gas reduction potential vs. cost of production (see Figure 4 in CORE-JetFuel Deliverable D6.6) and the potential reward vs. risk (see Figure 5 in CORE-JetFuel Deliverable D6.6).

In Figure 4 in CORE-JetFuel Deliverable D6.6, the specific GHG emission reduction potential of the unblended fuel relative to conventional jet fuel, i.e. the percent reduction potential by substitution of the same amount conventional jet fuel (denoted as ε, is plotted versus the production cost relative to the market value of conventional jet fuel (denoted as γ). This applies to the WtT production cost and the reference value us the 2013 market price of the reference fuel, i.e. of conventional Jet A-1, which is approximately 1000 USD/t. ε are the emissions saved per unit of fuel relative to conventional jet fuel. This is related to CI = (100% + ε, also known as “carbon intensity” of the fuel. With zero carbon intensity (CI = 0), 100% of GHG emissions are saved (ε = -100%)

The collected data cover a broad range of values and are associated with considerable variation and uncertainties. There are several reasons for such variation and uncertainties. The data was extracted from numerous different sources, such as scientific articles and reports. The variations originate from the variations in the underlying assumptions, methodologies, system boundaries etc. of different studies and event of systematic variation of assumptions within such studies, e.g. to find typical results and performance envelopes. Uncertainty intervals in the primary assumptions further add uncertainty intervals to the results. (Harmonization of assumptions would reduce the spread of data and would to enable a consistent quantitative comparison for a particular set of primary parameters. However such an analysis is out of scope of the CORE-JetFuel work.

The evaluation yielded a wealth of valuable information, with the key findings summarized in the following.

- In the light of the given variations and uncertainties, no obvious correlation of specific GHG emissions and cost of production can be found.
- All considered options provide substantially reduced specific GHG emissions in comparison to conventional jet fuel (Jet A-1), even though the upper values within the ranges of variation and uncertainty of some options would represent only insufficient reductions.
- All considered options are considerably more costly in comparison to conventional Jet A-1. Consequently, a price gap between conventional jet fuel and renewable alternatives is likely to remain at least in the medium-term future. Appropriate regulatory and/or economic measures will be needed to provide a market environment where renewable fuels can be

In Figure 5 in CORE-JetFuel Deliverable D6.6, the potential reward vs. risk analysis, the potential reward is represented by the potential impact on GHG emission reduction (which is the share of fossil fuel displaced by alternative fuels in the market. i.e. the substitution potential, multiplied with the specific GHG emission reduction ε shown in Figure 4 in CORE-JetFuel Deliverable D6.6) which is plotted versus the technology readiness level (TRL) of the fuel production path as a risk-related metric. Note: It is important to understand that TRL is not identical to a risk metric but is not unrelated to it. TRL is used as indicator for the risk associated with the further development of a technology: The lower the actual degree of development, the higher the risk of failure on the way towards industrial maturity and commercialization.

In the potential impact on GHG emissions reduction the entire fleet (European and global) in 2050 is considered. The interpretation of the upper limit value of 100% for the potential impact on GHG emission reduction is that 100% of the emissions are eliminated which can only be the case if 100% of conventional fossil fuel is substituted with an absolute zero carbon intensity (ε = -100%) fuel. This performance indicator reflects the fact that an advantageous specific GHG balance alone is not sufficient; such fuel would have to be supplied in large quantities to have a real impact. This is an issue often neglected in discussions about renewable fuels.

- All pathways in the “high potential reward” range either depend on lignocellulosic feedstock (including waste streams) or do not require input of biomass at all. This finding reflects the fact that these pathways offer high specific GHG emissions reduction AND are potentially available in large quantities. However, none of these promising options is mature enough to-date for short-term industrial implementation, and consequently certain risks of failure or major challenges are associated with their further development.
- Pathways depending on microalgal feedstock show moderate absolute GHG emissions reduction potential at global level, while remaining insignificant at European level. This is a consequence of the negligible production potential for microalgae in Europe.
- For the same reason, the potential reward in terms of GHG emissions reduction of HEFA fuels from used cooking oil (UCO) is negligibly small, at European as well as global scale: While the specific GHG balance of this fuel is excellent, the availability of UCO is very limited.


The mapping of R&D activities in the field of conversion technologies and radical concepts has been conducted according to the Quadrant Model of Research (Stokes, 1997), as briefly described above. The key findings of the mapping of European R&D activities are summarized in Figure 6 in CORE-JetFuel Deliverable D6.6 and explained in the following.

No activities located in Bohr’s quadrant (corresponding to pure basic research) were identified. This can be explained by the fact that fuels-related topics are inherently use-inspired or product-oriented and thus not purely “basic”. However, research on fuel production technologies heavily relies on knowledge created in basic research in other thematic domains, e.g. physics, chemistry or materials science.

Most identified R&I projects are located in Pasteur’s quadrant (use-inspired basic research). However, total budget volume of purely product-oriented activities (Edison’s quadrant) is by far exceeding the total volume of other R&I activities. This is a consequence of the large budget volumes required for product-oriented technology development projects that aim for transferring a demonstrated technology from research to operation in industrially relevant environments to enable subsequent commercial implementation. Largest volumes found for projects dedicated to gasification/FT-synthesis (FT-SPK production) based on lignocellulosic feedstock and to AtJ.

No European project dedicated to HtL technologies and only few activities on the related HDCJ conversion were found. This was unexpected as HtL and HDCJ enable the exploitation of major biomass resources (lignocellulosic materials) in Europe with a significant potential impact in GHG emission reduction. More efforts are required to progress the technologies (including the upgrading) towards industrially relevant scale and maturity.

Only few activities devoted to HEFA were identified, because HEFA is already industrially applied and there is no need for further development.

Small overall volume and number of activities are devoted to renewable non-biogenic options Power-to-Liquid (PtL) and Sun-to-Liquid (StL). With regard to their huge potential reward in terms of GHG emissions reduction, continuous efforts are needed to demonstrate the potential of the integrated pathways in industrially relevant environment.



Biofuel certification process has been well studied. It includes the 5 already certified routes end of April 2016, as well as a lot of on-going certifications (with their inherent uncertainty level) for the short and medium term. This is an important task within this very complex biojet fuel world with a lot of stakeholders and a lot of uncertainty on the on-going project: possible bankruptcy, such as for KiOR or Solena for example, readjustment of the business models of some actors (such as more focusing on high margin products for chemicals, fine chemicals, human health or cosmetics than on biofuels) or the evolution of the balance between biogasoline, biojet fuel and biodiesel.
That is the reason why, a recommendation to the EC is to continue the monitoring of deployment/implementation initiatives with a critical expert analysis to have an accurate overview on the most viable future pathways.

ASTM certification process is a well-recognized process. It is a robust process to guarantee than a new fuel will comply with all requirements related to compatibility, quality and safety. It should not be replaced by another one, even at European level. A short ASTM certification process of about two years is possible, if data are available on time and if everything is well scheduled and prepared with a good cooperation and involvement of all the OEM’s (Original Equipement Manufacturers) and suppliers. Even if quite high, ASTM qualification costs are not regarded as “show-stopper” for the development of alternative aviation fuels, since the cost of the construction and operation of a demo plant is much higher and usually represent by far the highest cost. Nevertheless the ASTM process should be improved through a better knowledge of fuel chemistry and relationship with properties of usage. This better knowledge could also be a way to get new fuels reducing pollutant emissions. Any study that make possible a better understanding of the properties of the fuels, such as cold flow, stability and combustion properties..., should be pushed forward. Another concern is to pay attention to logistic and quality insurance because these topics are not covered by ASTM certification and qualification.


An identification and information gathering of the most promising deployment initiatives and industrial value-chains under development worldwide was performed. Since it is a very important task, with a similar approach performed within the ICAO/AFTF (Alternative Fuel Task Force) group, the AFTF and the CORE-Jet fuel databases were merged in order to get a comprehensive database that is shared worldwide. The focus of this database is on “advanced alternative fuels” that could have an application in aviation. The database currently mainly includes announcements by industry or processes at large scale pilot plant or demo level. It is a unique database where the collected information regarding biojet fuel projects, as well as classification and comments by the group of expert, are stored. Currently the database is managed by a group of ICAO/AFTF experts providing updates / announcements by setting a number of criteria under the leadership and secretariat of Volpe, with support of US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) This group can then keep it updated and alive on the AFTF website. Today the database is only available for ICAO members.


Information regarding worldwide ongoing policies and national initiatives has been collected to get to know the different ongoing options that could eventually contribute to the scale up of aviation biofuels. On the basis of the work carried out for that task, a detailed analysis of the following policies and regulations has been elaborated:

• ICAO level political discussions
• Relevant European level legislation: EU Renewable Energy Directive, Fuel Quality Directive and EU ETS
• Relevant state of transposition of European legislation and treatment of some European member states of national legislation
• US Renewable Fuel Standard
• Californian Low Carbon Fuel Standard
• Brazilian National Alcohol Program (PROALCOOL)
• Australian Biofuels Act
• Indonesian Alternative Fuels and Renewable Energy for Airports Initiatives

This compilation of policies information was used as a basis to analyse possible ways forward for the EU. In particular, 5 possible measures were analyzed:
• Counting of biojet fuels towards the obligation of fuel suppliers in several EU Member States (opt-in)
• Market-based Measure (MBM) with revenue generation geared towards innovation in the aviation sector
• Separate mandate for aviation biofuels
• Stimulating innovation and projects in the supply chain
• Cooperation between major airports / airlines

As a result of this analysis, as well as from the inputs obtained from the CORE-JetFuel stakeholder workshops, for each of these proposed measures, specific conclusions have been drawn.
Regarding the possibility of counting of biojet fuels towards the obligation of fuel suppliers in several EU Member States (opt-in), although the sole impact of this measure has been evaluated to be low, it is considered by stakeholders a necessary step before proposing more ambitious measures. This measure is encouraged to be implemented on the EU states that have not adopted it already, since it is a measure which is fairly easy to implement, does not require a significant investment and creates confidence for investment.

Regarding the use of market-based Measure (MBM) with revenue generation to be geared towards innovation in the aviation sector, there is currently uncertainty on the short term development of the EU ETS and therefore, it is premature to give final recommendations without knowing the details of the system and how the implementation of a GMBM will affect European MBMs. However, several actions can start to be considered in the definition of the European medium-term strategy for aviation alternative fuels. In the case of the implementation of a GMBM the revenue stream from an aviation MBM system could be used as a source for climate financing needed to limit the global temperature increase, or used for stimulating innovation in the aviation sector, including innovation on alternative fuels. Alternatively, in an offsetting system, biojet fuel could be used to reduce the emissions from airlines activities by accounting with lower emission factors, as an alternative to buying other offsets, or even create offsetting projects that involve the aviation sector.

Regarding the discussion of proposing a separate mandate for aviation biofuels, the outcomes of the project workshops show that it is still a topic where there is not a strong consensus among the collaborating stakeholders. Implementing a separate mandate for aviation biofuels requires significant time as well as production capacity. As a result, it may be cautious to allow building up further capacity of production as well as experience in complete value chain sustainability certification of aviation fuels before establishing a specific mandate. In fact, in the case mandates are considered, establishing the actual volumes will be a challenging task. First of all, a detailed impact assessment of possible mandated volumes would be required (i.e. analyzing the potential production capacity, etc.). Secondly, any mandate for aviation biofuels would have to be developed within the context of a MBM or the EU ETS.

Regarding the option of stimulating innovation and projects in the supply chain, this strategy would be in line with the current FP7/H2020 strategy. Support from national administrations would also be beneficial very beneficial, especially in order to invest directly on local development (i.e. local agricultural development or industrial production). One of the conclusions of all the stakeholder workshops and debates is that support shouldn’t be limited to one single technology, since it is considered that there is no winning technology but rather that diversification is still important in terms of supply chain development. However, support is not only needed in the actual supply chain but also in the coordination with related topics and projects (i.e. with projects related to fuel/engine systems) in order to find synergies. Another option would be to try to attract private investment through financing options for first mover/early adopter grants, off-take agreements facilitated by national administrations or even facilitating access to loan guarantees.

Regarding the possibility of facilitating cooperation between major airports / airlines, we it has been observed that such initiatives in previous experiences have given very positive results. It is recommended that institutional support is given by national authorites in order to act as facilitators to reach the cooperation agreements. The European Commission can promote an airport-led initiative primarily through its communication with sector organisations, selected airports and the aviation society at large. In fact, it would be interesting to analyse in further detail which airports would be optimal for such pilot experiences, based in their logistics system, geographical situation and level of activity.
In addition to the previously mentioned policies, it is a recommendation of the project that some financing options could also be explored in addition to giving direct support to projects, since it may still seem unattractive from private investors if further security to their investments is not assured. The risk of failure of a project needs to be decreased in order to incentivize investments. Purchase agreements that guarantee demand for a certain period could be a way of de-risking such investments. Incentives could be introduced for production/consumption.


Activities implemented within CORE-JetFuel WP3 successfully served to ensure efficient involvement of international experts and stakeholders from industry, academia, research centers as well as relevant public authorities in the coordination of research and innovation in the field of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

A CORE-JetFuel stakeholder database was established immediately after the kick-off meeting in September 2013. It was continuously up-dated throughout the project and includes more than 750 contacts involved in the field of alternative aviation fuels in August 2016. This database facilitated the set-up of four thematic working groups and the involvement of stakeholders in CORE-JetFuel project activities (e.g. workshops, conferences, telephone conferences, questionnaires, etc).
In total more than 300 stakeholders participated in CORE-JetFuel workshops and conferences in Madrid, Vienna, Berlin, Alexandria (USA) and Brussels.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Forum (SAFF) in Madrid on 20–22 October 2014 was jointly organised by the projects CORE-JetFuel, FORUM-AE and ITAKA. The CORE-JetFuel Workshop “Sustainable alternative aviation fuels – Innovative conversion technologies and deployment” in Vienna, 1 June 2015 took place on the occasion of the 23rd European Biomass Conference & Exhibition (EUBCE 2015). The CORE-JetFuel Strategy Workshop “Policies and Value Chains for Large-scale Deployment of Alternative Aviation Fuels” in Berlin on 29 October 2015 was organised on the occasion of the International Energy Agency (IEA) BIOENERGY CONFERENCE 2015 ‘Realising the World’s Sustainable Bioenergy Potential’.

In order to ensure efficient international cooperation in the field of alternative aviation fuels cooperation contacts have been established with experts and stakeholders in Brazil and the USA. The CAAFI – CORE-JetFuel Cooperation Workshop in Alexandria, USA on 28 April 2016 was jointly organised by the US Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the project CORE-JetFuel on the occasion of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) ASCENT SPRING Meeting. The main aim of this workshop was to facilitate discussion among experts from the U.S. and Europe. Participation at this workshop included a delegation of 12 experts from Europe and 30 experts from the U.S.

The CORE-JetFuel Final International Conference “Sustainable Alternative Aviation Fuels – The Way Forward” in Brussels on 16-17 June 2016 was organised on the occasion of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW). The aim of this conference was to present outcomes and policy recommendations to representatives of the European Commission, industrial decision makers and other public stakeholders, as well as gathering final information for the elaboration of reports on recommendations. This conference included discussion panels and feedback sessions to gather comments and suggestions from stakeholders, which are integrated in the final reporting and recommendations of the CORE-JetFuel project.

Potential Impact:
Although socio-economic impacts of a Coordination and Support Action such as CORE-JetFuel are difficult to quantify, as there is generally no technical development or innovation involved, potential impacts might include the generation of jobs in the recommended production chains in the medium to long-term. Voluntary action on the side of the aviation industry is under way (ICAO resolution in market-based measures 2016). However, the socio-economic impact will, to a large extent, depend on the political and regulatory framework for the European and international aviation sector.

In addition, the results of the feedstock assessment and the rather strict view of the aviation industry to pursue only truly sustainable options could contribute to increasing the sustainability of feedstock production with a focus on combating potentially negative societal implications. Efficient and sustainable use of agricultural wastes and residues as well as the low-input cultivation of energy crops on marginal land can revitalise rural areas and locally create new added value.

By providing a science-based information groundwork for future R&D and funding strategies, CORE-JetFuel results can support the development of cost-efficient and climate-friendly technologies with potentially beneficial impact on local economies and climate protection. A robust knowledge base can also help to avoid setting unrealistic targets or supporting technologies with an unbalanced risk / potential reward ratio.

Other impacts of the project include:

Stakeholder workshops have enabled networking between different stakeholders, facilitating information exchange and learning of the current barriers for deployment and concerns of the different stakeholders of the value chain.
The CORE-JetFuel stakeholder database includes more than 750 contacts involved in the field of alternative aviation fuels in August 2016. This database facilitated the set-up of four thematic working groups and the involvement of stakeholders in CORE-JetFuel project activities.
More than 300 stakeholders from industry, academia, research centers as well as relevant public authorities participated in CORE-JetFuel workshops and conferences in Madrid, Vienna, Berlin, Alexandria (USA) and Brussels.
International cooperation liaison in the field of alternative aviation fuels has been established with experts and stakeholders in Brazil and the USA. The CAAFI – CORE-JetFuel Cooperation Workshop in Alexandria, USA in April 2016 served to facilitate discussion among experts from the U.S. and Europe.
The review of the policy scene as can help EU administrations to get to know where are the current policy gaps in order to get sufficient background to propose additional measures to support alternative fuels deployment.
The review on technology deployment status helps to set the scene to understand the technologies that in the near term could deliver short term results and therefore short term production of fuel.
CORE-JetFuel website has been a reference site where related news and events have been published, serving as a useful source of information.

List of Websites:

(1) Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR) (coordinator) – Agency for Renewable Resources – Germany: Johannes Michel,, 0049 3843 6930 250, Birger Kerckow,, 0049 3843 6930 125
(2) Servicios y Estudios para la Navegación Aérea y la Seguridad Aeronáutica SA – Services and Studies for Air Navigation and Aeronautical Safety (SENASA) - Spain: María de la Rica Jiménez, 0034 913019896 19660,
(3) Bauhaus Luftfahrt e.V. (BHL) - Germany: Arne Roth, 0049 3074849 46,
(4) IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN) - France: Alain Quignard, 00 33 4 37 70 25 79
(5) WIP Renewable Energies Munich (WIP) – Germany: Rainer Janssen, 0049 89 720127 43,
(6) Airbus Group Innovations (AGI) – France: Isabelle Lombaert-Valot, 0033 1469734 86,

Reported by

Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.


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