Growing demand for sustainable aviation fuels good news for corn farmers

An ag economist says corn growers will benefit from strengthening demand for sustainable aviation fuels.

Paul Bertels with Farmgate Insights tell Brownfield last fall the Biden Administration introduced a challenge for airlines to shift to complete use of sustainable aviation fuel by 2050.    

“When you look at market growth by 2050 that’s projected to be about 35 billion to 37 billion gallons within the US alone.”

He says since the fuel is made from biomass like corn ethanol and soybean oil it will keep the market for those moving, even as vehicle electrification challenges the liquid fuel market.

“You really can’t electrify planes so there is going to be a liquid fuel market for the foreseeable future. It’s not necessarily going to stop with ethanol getting mixed with gasoline.”

He says while sustainable aviation fuel has not been made in Illinois yet, the state should have production facilities by the end of the decade.

LanzaJet has announced a joint venture with Marquis energy in Hennepin to put in a plant that would produce, I believe, 120 million gallons of SAF a year. Another big maker, Gevo has a joint venture with ADM looking to do this as well.”

Bertels talks more about the sustainable aviation fuels market in this week’s episode of IL Corn Connection.

  • So it takes almost 2 gallons of ethanol equivalent energy to make one gallon of aviation fuel which results in a higher carbon intensity than ethanol. Moving to E15 and even E20 does more to reduce not only carbon but also other toxic emissions. Just seems like grasping for straws here to say ethanol should go into aviation fuel when the gasoline market needs more ethanol. Just push EPA out of the way and sell higher blends.

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