Industrial products, solutions and technologies company Honeywell and and industrial biotechnology company GranBio announced today a collaboration to combine their respective technologies to produce carbon neutral sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Sustainable aviation fuel is seen as one of the key tools to help decarbonize the aviation industry, which currently accounts for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Demand for SAF is likely to rise dramatically over the next few years, as airlines turn to the technology as one of the key solutions to hit their climate goals, and as governments begin to mandate increased SAF use to achieve their own decarbonization ambitions. The EU, for example, recently announced the adoption of a law mandating minimum SAF usage, increasing to 70% of fuel blends by 2050.

Many current techniques used to produce SAF, however, may face difficulty in reaching the scale required to support these ambitions, with required feedstocks often in limited supply.

Brazil-based GranBio’s cellulosic ethanol “AVAP” technology converts biomass, including forest and agricultural residues, to pure low-cost, low-carbon-intensity sugars, lignin, and nanocellulose. Using Honeywell’s ethanol to jet (ETJ) technology, the cellulosic sugars can be converted to SAF..

Among the key benefits of the new process, the companies highlighted the use of abundant and low-cost feedstocks, as well as economic upside through the value chain. GranBio CEO Bernardo Gradin said, “in addition to vast forest and agricultural residue available for feedstocks, there is an enormous potential to retrofit idle pulp and paper facilities in the U.S., revitalizing forestry value chains and rural manufacturing with great social, environmental, and economic impact.”

The companies added that the use of forest biomass-derived ethanol from the AVAP process and Honeywell’s ETJ technology can fuel reduce emissions to net zero on a total lifecycle basis.

The SAF from the new collaboration will be produced at GranBio’s forthcoming U.S. demonstration plant. GranBio’s subsidiary AVAPCO has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive an $80M grant to support the demonstration plant that will produce  approximately 2 million gallons per year of SAF upon start-up.

Barry Glickman, Vice President, and General Manager at Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions, said:

“Our advanced ETJ process is ready-now and builds upon Honeywell’s near twenty years’ experience in renewable fuels. Honeywell’s renewable fuels solutions, including ETJ, incorporate integrated, modular designs, that enable producers like GranBio to build new SAF capacity more than a year faster than is possible with traditional construction approaches.”