ExxonMobil has developed a unique process technology to enable the manufacture of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from renewable methanol. This expands upon ExxonMobil’s suite of technology solutions that are engineered to manufacture SAF from other biofeeds.
SAF produced from renewable methanol can play an important role in helping the aviation industry achieve the transition to a net-zero future. Reaching that goal by 2050 will require a multi-faceted approach, including advancements in aircraft-related technology, changes to infrastructure and operations, and a dramatic increase in SAF supply. Our process technology can be an important step in this direction.
Methanol derived from the gasification of biomass and waste, as well as from lower-carbon hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide (CO₂), can be converted into SAF using ExxonMobil’s methanol-to-jet proprietary process technology and catalysts. Preliminary estimates by ExxonMobil suggest that this solution has a higher yield of jet fuel than other options.
The ExxonMobil solution also provides the flexibility to use a mix of alcohols as feedstock and produce renewable diesel and lower-carbon chemical feedstocks.
Methanol to jet technology is scalable and suitable for the conversion of methanol produced from today’s world-scale plants. The work necessary to qualify the resulting renewable jet fuel pathway has already started.
Interest in a methanol-to-jet pathway is not unique to ExxonMobil.
Haldor Topsoe, Luleå Tekniska Universitet and RISE, for example, are in the middle of an 18-month project to develop technology to convert biomethanol to jet fuel. The project is designing a new process for the production of heavier hydrocarbons directly from methanol with a new catalyst which should be optimal for the purpose. Only a mild hydrogen treatment is then needed to obtain jet fuel.
The current Alcohol to Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene pathway (ATJ-SPK), certified in 2016, currently only allows the individual use of ethanol and isobutanol. It is intended to eventually cover the use of any 2 to 5 carbon alcohol. Methanol is a 1-carbon compound.