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ExxonMobil unveils methanol jet fuel technology

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US-based ExxonMobil – one the largest integrated chemical, lubricant and fuel companies in the world – has announced a new process for making sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from sustainably produced methanol.

SAF is intended as a low-carbon alternative to aviation fuel to help reduce emissions from air travel in the short term. It can be blended with traditional aviation fuel for use as a drop-in replacement or potentially used pure in future compatible engines.

ExxonMobil, which also owns the Mobil brand, says its new proprietary technology can convert methanol to SAF at a higher yield than is possible with other processes. The methanol feedstock can be produced renewably by gasifying waste biomass or by using captured CO2 and low-carbon hydrogen. Furthermore, it says this process can be adapted to take a combination of alcohols in order to produce other low-carbon chemical feedstocks and sustainable diesel. The company also says the technology can be scaled up for SAF production at an industrial scale, using feedstock that is already being produced in large-scale facilities today.

In a statement, an ExxonMobil executive connected with low-emission fuels, Russ Green, said about the new technology:

“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.”

Green added that the announced process technology could be a significant step towards achieving the last of these goals.

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