News from Brazil suggests the discovery of a new enzyme could impact different feedstocks used for aviation biofuels. The enzyme OleTPRN is derived from a bacterium named Rothia nasimurium and belongs to the cytochrome P450 superfamily. This enzyme can effectively transform fatty acids, essential components of lipids found in plants, animals, and microorganisms, into alkenes, a type of hydrocarbon and an important chemical intermediary.
The article notes: “The benefit of using this enzyme over conventional catalysts is that it can perform the deoxygenation reaction, which is one of the most difficult steps in producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), under mild conditions and with high selectivity for different sizes and types of carbon chains. Oxygen can damage aircraft parts and engines, which is why biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are not suitable for aviation.”
This is encouraging news as the commercial aviation sector starts to focus on SAF production. Brazil’s large sugar cane production generates 150m tonnes of waste, which can be used as SAF feedstock.
The growing movement against ESG further offers another perspective on this news. Last week, Blackrock’s CEO, speaking at the Aspen Festival of Ideas, announced he’d no longer be using the term “ESG.” “I don’t use the word ESG anymore because it’s been entirely weaponized … by the far left and weaponized by the far right,” Mtr. Fink said.
When Blackrock speaks, it pays to listen. This is the world’s largest money manager with $9T under management.
On the one hand, we see encouraging news from Brazil that could significantly add to SAF production. The need for rapid increases in SAF supply is crucial for commercial aviation to hit its NetZero goals.
On the other hand, seeing the growing sense of ESG reality is great. Everyone wants a cleaner environment. That is not an issue – the issue is how quickly we can transition and at what cost. If public policy is to discourage air travel, there has to be a reasonable alternative. You cannot reasonably expect a traveler to be forced to use a train rather than a plane if what was a same-day trip now becomes an overnight. France seems to be going this way, and the EU is not far behind.
Beware of fads and snake oil.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.