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Aviation is one of the most difficult to decarbonize transportation sectors, primarily because the fuel energy density requirement for commercial flight is substantial. However, the aviation industry has set aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the process to achieve these goals for international aviation is under development with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In addition to efficiency gains from technological and operational improvements, drop-in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is essential for meeting the environmental performance goals of commercial aviation. A wide range of potential alternative fuel options are being developed and deployed, a significant momentum appears to be building within industry and governments to advance SAF. Yet incentivizing and assuring the economic viability, environmental performance, and social acceptability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the de-risking of sustainable aviation fuel supply chains remains a challenge.  

The goal of this Research Topic is to explore the state of knowledge on SAF development, performance, and deployment to inform researchers, industry, and policy makers. While the general field of biofuels has been greatly explored across many venues, SAF is unique due to its high-level performance and certification requirements. A diverse set of SAF pathways have been explored and qualified for use as jet fuel under American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards but many of these commercial options present different challenges with respect to demonstration at scale, projected fuel cost, capital requirements for building production facilities, or long-term availability and sustainability of the feedstock. The field can benefit from tools to de-risk supply chains, and strategies to enhance the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of both feedstock and fuel production, while exploring the social implications of potential developments. 

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

·      Sustainable feedstock development, availability and preparation (e.g., purpose-grown crops, wastes and residues, carbon capture)

·      Flexible and robust fuel conversion processes

·      Fuel performance and certification

·      Economic, environmental, and social viability of fuels and fuel pathways

·      Analysis of the industry and supply chains

·      Cost and risk reduction of SAF supply chains

·      Existing policy review and analysis; future policy recommendations 

Keywords: sustainability, aviation, biofuels, certification, policy, supply chain, economics

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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