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Southwest Airlines purchased a...


Southwest Airlines purchased a stake in Clean Flight

Southwest Airlines stake Clean Flight
The Silicon Review
17 April, 2024

The accomplishments of Southwest Airlines and SAFFiRE underscore the potential for the United States to cultivate a thriving aviation industry powered by clean fuel

Air travel contributes to 11% of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, growing at a rate outpacing many other modes of transportation. Despite significant progress in reducing emissions from other transportation sectors, aviation presents a particularly challenging hurdle. Consequently, the federal government and its industry collaborators are directing resources toward sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF, derived from common organic materials through a complex process, holds the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from flights, potentially reaching net-zero levels. With the advancement of this promising technology, the focus shifts to the collection and refinement of these materials. Working alongside private-sector partners, NREL scientists devised a novel method for treating and processing corn stover, the organic residue from the nation's extensive corn harvest.

The United States annually generates over 400 million tons of corn stover, with the potential to repurpose at least one-third of this yield for SAF production. Leveraging this domestic resource and other agricultural residues, the nation could produce more than 7 billion gallons of SAF annually—approximately 20% of the projected 2050 demand. This breakthrough not only minimizes waste but also promises scalability on an unprecedented level. Southwest Airlines' acquisition of SAFFiRE, coupled with its commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, represents a significant stride toward an anticipated surge in domestic SAF production.