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Supporting the Development and Use of SAF

Basic Concept

Until now, the airline industry has been working to reduce CO2 emissions by cutting the quantity of fuel used. However, to achieve further reductions in CO2 emissions in future, we need to change the quality of the fuels we use. The development and practical application of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is underway in Europe, the U.S., and other countries around the world, and it is expected that use of SAF will become widespread after 2030. Given this trend, the JAL Group is also actively investing in SAF, using it on scheduled flights, and disseminating information in order to become the leading airline in the adoption of SAF.

Using SAF for JAL flights

In 2009, we conducted the first test flight in Asia using SAF made from non-edible raw materials. We also operated our flights powered by SAF from Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Narita Airport in November 2017 and from San Francisco International Airport to Haneda Airport in January 2019. In addition, upon receipt of Airbus A350 aircraft in fiscal year 2019, we have used SAF on all 5 of the delivery flights from Airbus' plant in Toulouse, France to Haneda Airport.

Investment in U.S. SAF Manufacturer

In September 2018, the JAL Group, together with Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN) and Marubeni Corporation, acquired a stake in Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. ("Fulcrum") located in California, USA. This was the first investment by a Japanese company in an SAF manufacturing business. Fulcrum has developed a process to produce SAF from general waste that is normally disposed of in landfill. The production technology has also been certified to fuel standard by ASTM International, an international standardization and standards-setting organization. Fulcrum's first production plant is currently under construction in Nevada and is expected to be completed in early 2021. The company is one of the most likely companies to achieve mass production of SAF, with plans for a rollout of multiple plants in future, including already announced plans for plant construction in Indiana. Therefore, the JAL Group will strengthen its relationship with Fulcrum and proceed with refueling our aircraft with SAF supplied by Fulcrum, mainly on flights departing from North America, in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

Fulcrum's SAF manufacturing plant (as of Dec 2020)
Fulcrum's SAF manufacturing process

Efforts towards the Adoption of Domestically Produced SAF

The Japanese government has established a "Roadmap Study Committee for the Introduction of Bio-Jet Fuel for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games" (commonly referred to as the "Roadmap Study Committee"), which has been studying the feasibility of producing SAF in Japan and introducing it for use in time for the milestone of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The JAL Group, as a member of the Roadmap Study Committee, is working to operate our flights using domestically produced SAF, and we are also contributing as a member of this "All Japan" effort to develop the SAF supply chain from production to use, linking the various stakeholders, with the aim of achieving the government's objective of the widespread adoption of domestically produced SAF by 2030.

Project to Turn Used Clothing into SAF

In October 2018, JAL launched a project to convert cotton clothing, collected from customers and many people across Japan, into domestically produced SAF. During the campaign in 2018 (about three months long), around 50 companies helped collect approximately 250,000 pieces of clothing. With technical support from Green Earth Institute Co., Ltd., and using a bioprocess technology developed by the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), the project started converting the used clothing into SAF in February 2019. The mass production of SAF was successfully achieved in Japan in late-March 2020. The use of SAF has been promoted worldwide, but this was the first time that mass production was completed in Japan. This success has proven that Japan’s technology is capable of producing SAF.

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