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About The Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)


Recently, India has expressed its reservations regarding the global mandates for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with a target year of 2050, asserting that it is “too early.”


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India’s stance on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) mandates is characterized by several key points
  2. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
  3. Challenges Pertaining to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

India’s stance on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) mandates is characterized by several key points

  • National Strategy: India believes that each country should have the freedom to develop its own strategy and approach in accordance with its national plans. This acknowledges the importance of considering unique circumstances, priorities, and capabilities when addressing sustainability goals in the aviation sector.
  • Support from ICAO: India has sought support from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in its efforts to achieve carbon net-zero goals while also addressing other important aspects of aviation, such as meeting the increasing demands and expectations of passengers.
  • SAF Production and Availability: India emphasizes the importance of ensuring the production, certification, and availability of Sustainable Aviation Fuel before imposing volumetric mandates. This aligns with the ideology of the Low-Carbon Sustainable Aviation Fuel Technology Roadmap (LTAG), which emphasizes the need for a comprehensive and feasible approach to SAF implementation.
  • Participation in International Initiatives: India intends to actively participate in ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and the LTAG from 2027. This demonstrates India’s commitment to international collaborations and efforts to address environmental challenges in the aviation industry.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF):

  • SAF, also known as Bio-Jet Fuel, is produced using domestically developed methods that utilize cooking oil and oil-rich seeds from plants.
  • The quality and compliance of SAF are ensured through rigorous testing at the US Federal Aviation Administration Clearinghouse for ASTM D4054 certification from ASTM International.
  • ASTM certification evaluates products and materials against relevant standards, promoting quality, safety, and reliability in various industries.
Creation of SAF by CSIR-IIP:
  • The CSIR-IIP (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum) has successfully created fuel using different materials, including non-edible and edible oils, as well as used cooking oil.
  • Various sources have been utilized, such as palm stearin, sapium oil, palm fatty acid distillates, algae oil, karanja, and jatropha.
Benefits and Applications of SAF:
  • Scaling up SAF production and utilization in India offers multiple advantages:
    • Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
    • Improving air quality
    • Enhancing energy security
    • Creating job opportunities in the renewable energy sector
    • Promoting sustainable development
  • SAF helps the aviation industry meet environmental targets and contributes to global efforts against climate change.
  • It can be blended with regular jet fuel and used together, offering benefits such as:
  • Lower sulfur content compared to traditional fuel, reducing air pollution
  • Support for India’s goal of achieving Net Zero emissions.

Challenges Pertaining to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF):

Cost Differential:

  • The production processes for SAF, such as biomass or waste oil conversion, are currently more expensive compared to traditional jet fuel.
  • This economic barrier makes it challenging for airlines to invest in SAF production and adoption, especially considering the aviation industry’s cost sensitivity.

Limited Supply Chain Infrastructure:

  • The aviation industry requires a robust supply chain to ensure a consistent and reliable availability of SAF.
  • However, the existing infrastructure for SAF production and distribution is not well-developed, hindering the scalability and accessibility of SAF in the market.

Availability of Sustainable Feedstocks:

  • SAF production heavily depends on the availability of sustainable feedstocks, including agricultural residues, algae, and waste oils.
  • However, these feedstocks have limited availability, and there is competition for resources with other industries, such as food and agriculture.
  • Striking a balance between the demand for sustainable feedstocks and ensuring food security and other essential needs poses a significant challenge.

Complex Certification Process:

  • The certification process for SAF involves stringent quality and sustainability criteria. Meeting these requirements can be complex and time-consuming for producers.
  • Additionally, the lack of globally recognized standards further complicates the certification process, adding to the challenges faced by SAF producers and users.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023