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Flexjet pioneers AGC-SAF and pilots blockchain documentation
Flexjet aims not just to offset but reduce its emissions, and the use of SAF produced with Alder's greencrude will help achieve that. The transparency tool developed by Alder and 4Air will serve as a proof of concept.
Flexjet chief executive officer Michael Silvestro.
Read this story in our October 2022 printed issue.

Fractional operator Flexjet, a member of US-based private aviation investment firm Directional Aviation, will become the first business aviation user of AGC (Alder greencrude), a next gen SAF produced by clean tech developer and greencrude producer Alder Fuels.

Directional Aviation is to make a financial investment in Alder Fuels, and the two companies will pilot a pioneering blockchain-powered transparency tool to document the production life cycle and industry adoption of low-carbon SAF. The tool will assist with transparency around the production of SAF and provide robust documentation for compliance with regulatory programmes, environment, social and governance (ESG) targets and carbon reduction milestones for the aviation sector.

“Flexjet has achieved carbon-neutral flight operations for the past two years, purchasing credits to offset emissions from all flights booked by our aircraft owners worldwide,” says chief executive officer Michael Silvestro. “However, we have wanted to take the next step, not merely offsetting emissions but actually reducing them directly in our operations by taking tangible steps today. The use of SAF produced with Alder's cutting edge greencrude will help us achieve this goal, maintaining our leadership on aviation sustainability, and the transparency tool developed by Alder Fuels and 4Air will serve as a real-world proof of concept.”

“Our investment in Alder Fuels and partnership on advancing the use of digital technology to document SAF use is an example of private aviation leading the way on sustainability commitments and identifying solutions to reduce carbon emissions that aid the entire aviation industry,” says Directional Aviation principal Kenneth C Ricci.

Alder Fuels uses sustainable biomass such as regenerative grasses, forest residues and agricultural waste products to create a low-carbon to carbon-negative greencrude that can be converted into SAF using the existing bio and petroleum refinery infrastructure. In contrast to first-generation SAF, which was generated primarily from non-scalable supplies of fats, oils and grease, these biomass sources are abundantly available and, when repurposed, can contribute to soil regeneration and wildfire mitigation.

When calculating the fuel production carbon life cycle from field to wingtip across different biomass sources, AGC-derived SAF can achieve greenhouse gas reductions of over 80 per cent compared to petroleum jet fuel. The process, which has been validated by the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Laboratory (NREL), could even be carbon negative when utilising regenerative crops. AGC-derived SAF will meet current aviation specifications and is currently in the process of global certification as a 100 per cent drop-in replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel.

“As we make the transition from fossil to sustainable energy throughout our economy, transparency is critical. It is how we engender trust and integrity to strengthen the adoption curve, and that is exactly what we are working towards at Alder Fuels,” adds CEO and president Bryan Sherbacow. “This partnership will demonstrate exactly how fuel is sourced, developed and deployed from the sustainable biomass provider to the wingtip. We are thrilled to test and trial the technology against our offtake agreement with Flexjet and are incredibly grateful to Directional Aviation for its financial support and industry leadership.”

4Air, a Directional company, and Alder will align the use of blockchain technology tools to account for all the emission claims from the use of the SAF, generating the necessary records and transparency for compliance with regulatory frameworks, ESG standards and other sustainability commitments. This application of digital technology for the aviation sector has enormous potential. Public blockchains represent a groundbreaking technological platform for documenting supply chains and recording physical asset ownership. They also can be deployed to help verify and validate the supply chain and emissions outputs of renewable fuels. For example, they can enhance the book-and-claim model of SAF use, a practice where a sustainability claim made by a company or customer is separated from the physical flow of these goods.

“Our goal at 4Air is to make sustainability as simple and cost-effective as possible in order to promote its growth,” says 4Air president Kennedy Ricci. “The use of blockchain technology to transparently and permanently record the use of sustainable aviation fuel is an innovative application that will help users with regulatory and voluntary compliance and provide greater transparency about SAF's benefits as a way to reduce climate-changing aircraft carbon emissions.”

Through this partnership between Directional and Alder Fuels, Flexjet will be the first business aviation offtake partner for AGC, advancing the company towards its goal of having 12 per cent of its annual fuel consumption come from SAF by 2030.

Recognising the scaling up of SAF is critical to meeting such aggressive climate goals, the White House launched the 'SAF Grand Challenge', with the goal of having three billion gallons of SAF produced in the US by 2030, augmenting to 35 billion gallons by 2050. The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act into law amplifies the US commitment to SAF by providing tax credits for every gallon produced that demonstrates a 50 per cent or greater lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction relative to petroleum jet fuel.

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