Sustainable Aviation Fuels Research

To answer sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) research questions, NREL combines its extensive experience in combustion mechanisms and alternative fuels with high-performance computing to provide detailed insights for manufacturers.

Learn about NREL's other sustainable aviation research.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Combustion

NREL is one of the leading laboratories in research on combustion mechanisms. To learn about our experimental and modeling capabilities, see engine combustion research.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Markets and Standards

NREL has extensive knowledge in the process of bringing new fuels to market. This includes the certification process for existing fuels such as E85, biodiesel, and other alternative fuels, which will be critical to certifying and accelerating new forms of low-carbon SAFs for use. We have experience working with fuel standards organizations, such as ASTM International and the International Organization for Standardization, to develop and modify standards for low-carbon fuels.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Modeling and Analysis

With world-class models and supercomputing capabilities, NREL provides holistic modeling and analysis to guide investments and accelerate the broad adoption of SAFs. See our jet fuel analysis capabilities.

Measuring Accurate Fuel Properties at Actual Conditions

We measure fuel properties critical to turbine engine performance, including freezing point, viscosity, and density at extreme operating conditions such as at very low or very high temperatures and pressures. This enables (or creates) inputs into the Combustion-Pele software suite to improve simulations and map how fuel properties affect turbine performance. NREL is also developing the capability to measure surface tension.

Reducing ASTM International Approval Risks

We model and simulate critical fuel properties and performance in early stages of technology development to characterize and optimize the system performance of new drop-in SAF candidates, helping fuel producers prioritize technologies most likely to receive ASTM approval.

Mapping Fuel Properties to Performance

To help with the transition from 50% SAF blends—the current ASTM limit—to the use of pure SAF, we accurately map fuel properties to performance. This also clears the way for future SAF formulations specially tuned for novel new turbine designs to achieve even greater performance and emissions advantages.

Securing Critical Feedstock Pathways

Through physical and virtual modeling, we can empower feedstock producers and hydrotreating technology providers with a holistic look at economics, risks, and feedstock supply chains.