Iowa's Summit Agricultural Fuels the Future of Aviation with World's Largest Ethanol Jet Fuel Plant
- 16-May-2023 6:35 PM
- Journalist: Yage Kwon
US: Honeywell has teamed up with Summit Agricultural, a company based in Iowa, to construct the largest plant in the world for producing Ethanol-based aviation fuel. With an estimated cost of $1 billion, this facility is expected to be operational by 2025 and will potentially generate enough SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) to power thousands of flights annually. Utilizing Honeywell's cutting-edge technology, the plant will be in the US Gulf Coast region and convert Ethanol into sustainable aviation fuel.
The aviation industry consumes over 100 billion gallons of jet fuel each year, and Summit forecasts that this demand will double within the next two decades. To compound matters, airlines worldwide are seeking ways to reduce their Carbon footprint. In response, the Biden administration has set a target for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to cater to all aviation fuel needs by 2050. However, production in the US only reached 15 million gallons in 2022.
Private companies and governments are taking several measures to strengthen the market for Corn-based biofuel. Monday's announcement is one such step towards it. In 2021, the production of this biofuel has significantly boosted Iowa's GDP by over $5 billion. Additionally, it has generated a substantial income of $2.6 billion for households in the state and has provided support for approximately 46,000 job opportunities within its economy.
In a recent update, the Biden administration has allowed the sale of a higher blend of Ethanol, known as E15, during this year's driving season despite environmental concerns that have previously prohibited its use in the summer. With more than 300 gas stations in Iowa already offering E15, this number is expected to increase under a new law signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, which requires most gas stations in the state to offer E15 by 2026. To support compliance with this law, the state has granted over $5.7 million to 119 biofuels infrastructure projects this fiscal year, with $800,000 awarded last week for 12 gas station projects, including one in Cedar Rapids, to add E15 infrastructure.
The market for Ethanol has been subject to controversial efforts, with the most contentious being the development of underground pipelines. These pipelines aim to capture CO2 emissions from Ethanol plants and store them subterraneous. However, critics have pointed out the untested nature of the pipelines and their potential hazards to both the environment and individuals. Moreover, two out of the three pipeline projects earmarked for Iowa, which could attract federal tax credits, are seeking eminent domain authority from the state to acquire easements from unwilling landowners.
Rastetter oversees Summit Carbon Solutions, a pipeline company that plans to establish a 680-mile route in Iowa. The company is presently seeking the state regulatory board's approval for the proposed project and for eminent domain authority. The route will cross several states including Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota, where the liquefied CO2 will be sequestered.
Ethanol plants that adopt Carbon capture technology will be able to tap into lucrative markets both domestically and internationally. Summit Agricultural, based in Alden, has established FS Bioenergia, the biggest Corn-based Ethanol operation in Brazil, Amber Wave - a food ingredients and biofuel plant in Kansas, and Summit Carbon Solutions, which aims to link over 30 Ethanol plants in the Upper Midwest region.
Honeywell has announced their partnership with Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline in the United States to decarbonize Ethanol production through a jet fuel project. This project is a natural extension for the partner plants and will be particularly advantageous for the SAF plant located on the Gulf Coast as it can utilize various Ethanol feedstocks from different locations. Interestingly, this marks Honeywell's first Ethanol SAF deal licensing its technology. To meet the ambitious decarbonization goals set by airlines, Corn will need to be included as one of the feedstocks used to make fuel as there is not enough supply of fats or oils alone.