Virent bio-based fuel continues to demonstrate compatibility of 100% SAF with today’s modern airline fleet

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 22, 2023 – Virent’s plant-based synthesized aromatic kerosene today helped power an Emirates Airline demonstration flight, the first such flight of an Airbus 380 in the Middle East and North Africa to fuel one of its engines with 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Virent, a Marathon Petroleum Corp. subsidiary, used its BioForming® process to produce the synthesized aromatic kerosene (SAK) that made the 100% SAF possible as a “drop-in” replacement for conventional jet fuel.

“Virent’s technology enables the fueling of jet engines without the need to blend SAF with traditional jet fuel,” said Dave Kettner, President and General Counsel of Virent, Inc. “In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our bio-based SAK, made from plant sugars, also burns more efficiently and cleanly, reducing particulate matter emissions. We’re excited for this opportunity to work with Emirates, Airbus, GE Aerospace, Engine Alliance, Pratt & Whitney, Neste, and the Emirates National Oil Company as we demonstrate that we can power sustainable aviation without modifying today’s engines or the infrastructure that serves the airline industry.”

Today’s SAF – typically made from used cooking oil or other plant-based oil feedstocks – has to be blended with petroleum products because SAF lacks a component called “aromatics,” which is required to meet today’s jet fuel specifications. Virent’s SAK, made from renewable plant sugars, provides those aromatics.

Because Virent’s SAK is made from plant-based sugars as feedstocks, the carbon impact on a lifecycle basis is less than that of petroleum-based fuels. Virent has also developed data from engine testing that shows an SAF blend using its SAK is cleaner burning and has lower particulate matter emissions than conventional jet fuels.

This latest use of Virent’s technology to help power jet engines with 100% drop-in SAF comes after successful demonstration flights with United Airlines, Gulfstream, Bell Helicopter, and an Emirates flight earlier this year using a Boeing plane with GE Aerospace engines. Virent’s BioForm® SAK will be used next week to help fuel Virgin Atlantic’s 100% SAF flight from London to New York.