Deployment Activities & State Initiatives
A key CAAFI® priority is to foster the near-term commercialization of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. CAAFI works closely with stakeholders from all parts of potential state or regional supply chains to identify, evaluate, select, develop, and execute specific deployment projects that produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and value-added coproducts. CAAFI facilitates connections with relevant resources and authorities (e.g. USDA, state, and local interests) to identify funding opportunities, and also links supply chain participants with the CAAFI network of fuel producing companies and end users. Many of these efforts were begun in concert with the Farm to Fly 2.0 (F2F2) Initiative (the F2F2 Final Report was published in September 2019). These efforts complement the research and deployment activities of FAA’s ASCENT Center of Excellence and the USDA Bioenergy System Coordinated Agricultural Program.
CAAFI is always looking for partners to discuss potential state initiatives, with the goal of having representative projects for various feedstocks or conversion processes in as many places as we, and our collaborators, are able to support. If you are interested in new or existing projects, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selected Highlights of Current U.S. Efforts
CAAFI State Initiatives
USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture Coordinated Agriculture Projects (CAPs)
ASCENT Project 01 Supply Chain Development Regional Efforts
Selected Highlights of Current U.S. Efforts
CAAFI State Initiatives
CAAFI Administrative Leadership team members have been deeply involved in the inception and development of the following projects.
CAAFI's Steve Csonka and Rich Altman, along with members of the Business Development team of Marubeni Corporation (a Japanese industrial conglomerate being introduced to opportunities in the Sustainable Jet Fuel sector), tour the MSW sorting facility in Hartford, CT.
Collaborator: Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology
Feedstock: Municipal solid waste
CAAFI worked with regional stakeholders to evaluate options for repurposing the existing Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) Waste-to-Energy facility in Hartford to a Waste-to-Fuels complex with the potential of supplying jet fuel to Bradley International Airport. Initial feasibility studies funded by USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant were completed in collaboration with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.
Collaborator: Treasure Coast Education, Research & Development Authority (TCERDA)
Feedstock: purpose-grown sugars (sugar beet, sweet sorghum, sweet tubers)
Technology: Ethanol-based Alcohol to Jet (ATJ-SPK)
This team is pursuing the development of energy crop substitutes for hundreds of thousands of acres of fallow citrus fields (resulting from citrus blight and greening disease). Using a USDA Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG), the project was launched at the start of 2016 to evaluate the project’s feasibility, with an initial stakeholder meeting of over 50 key contributors from farmers, state and local government, end customers, financing sources, and NGOs. End users engaged in the kickoff included A4A, American Airlines, FedEx, Jet Blue, and military buyer DLA Energy. Fuel processors engaged in the project represent multiple pathways that utilize sugar feedstocks. During the course of the 12 month project, the team identified concepts for crop development and year-round supply chain definitions to enable jet fuel production. In addition to developing a model for a five-year scale-up to support a dedicated production site, the project also sought an early payoff in achieving a first year demonstration of processing sugar beets (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) through an existing citrus facility. The RBDG grant funded work was completed in the second quarter 2017 and a final report was issued in the third quarter 2017. Communications related to the project included county and CAAFI news postings, a CAAFI blog supporting the effort and proposing its organization as a template for future F2F2 efforts, and a local TV report. As a result, discussions have been initiated to pursue a scale-up effort at a number of potential processors.
Collaborators: Simonpietri Enterprises LLC and Hawaii Bioeconomy Trade Organization
Feedstocks: heterogeneous cellulosic urban and agricultural wastes and woody invasive species; tropical and indigenous oil nuts; digestible waste water, produce waste, and high-moisture invasive species
Since 2013, CAAFI has been active with members of the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Navy’s joint and interagency public-private renewable military mobility fuel procurement initiative, the Green Initiative for Fuels Transition Pacific (GIFTPAC), in evaluating the potential for feedstock and fuel production in Hawaii. In 2016, the Pacific Command and Navy facilitated transitioning of alternative fuels support to civilian-led efforts, becoming the starting point for additional private-sector explorations in this space. This collective has been active in various commercial and policy explorations and initiatives including:
- In 2017, the State of Hawaii formed the Hawaii Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Commission to coordinate state- and county-level policy and procurement to reduce carbon lifecycle of energy and transportation in the state.
- In 2018, several private sector participants formed the nonprofit Hawaii Bioeconomy Trade Organization (HBeTO) to collaborate and coordinate on private-sector actions in supply chain development, technical and business feasibility analysis, and state-level policy incentives and facilitation.
See efforts underway by the University of Hawaii team as part of the efforts of ASCENT.
USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grants funded two now-completed feasibility studies focused on 1) use of woody biomass-based fuels in Clarendon County and 2) the bioenergy potential from algae in Colleton County near South Carolina’s I-95 corridor. Results indicated that lumber industry by-product values remain competitive for fuel projects. Follow-up is being defined for the initial team to continue evaluations on the woody biomass concept, potentially through use of a USDA Value Added Producer Grant Proposal. This would be done in conjunction with several conversion technology providers, and would potentially include the evaluation of location-specific, brown-field sites including abandoned or underutilized pulp and paper or saw mill facilities. Participation is also expected from military customer interests in addition to CAAFI stakeholders in the region.
USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture Coordinated Agriculture Projects (CAPs) and Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS) Grants
Consortium for Cultivating Human and Naturally reGenerative Enterprises (C-CHANGE), Iowa
Collaborators: Iowa State University, Penn State University, Roeslein Alternative Energy, FDC Enterprises, and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Feedstock: perennials and winter crops
Technology: anaerobic digestion of diverse feedstocks
Iowa State University was awarded a USDA NIFA Sustainable Agricultural Systems grant to develop a new bio-based value chain. This project will examine production of renewable natural gas and bioproducts through the anaerobic digestion of herbaceous biomass combined with manure. The basis of this idea is in leveraging a successful model based on the digestion of the manure to encompass new agricultural feedstocks, more diverse products, and increased value throughout the supply chain. C-CHANGE provides integrated activities directed toward feedstock diversification, modularization, process intensification, and engagement to reduce supply chain risks. The ultimate goal is to alleviate environmental concerns associated with current agricultural systems while encouraging economic growth in rural America.
Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER), Illinois
Collaborators: Western Illinois University and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Western Illinois University was awarded a USDA NIFA AFRI Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grant for their IPREFER project. This project aims to introduce pennycress as an ecosystem benefiting crash crop in the U.S. “Corn Belt.” Integration of pennycress into existing crop rotations could extend the growing season on existing crop lands, and the pennycress could yield up to 2 billion gallons of oil annually. The specific research involves improving pennycress germplasm and agronomic management, ecosystem services characterization, and supply chain establishment with an emphasis on post-harvest seed management. The project will also work to develop education and extension networks to enhance pennycress adoption and profitability.
Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Biomass Consortium (MASBIO), West Virginia
Collaborators: West Virginia University, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Penn State University, State University of New York, West Virginia State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USDA Forest Service and Forest Products Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge, and Idaho National Laboratories
Feedstock: forestry residues
West Virginia University was awarded a USDA NIFA AFRI Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grant to facilitate the expansion of the bioeconomy in the Mid-Atlantic region. This project will leverage and utilize resources and geographical advantages, such as 10 million acres of mined and marginal agricultural lands, to be reclaimed and used to produce biomass crops. These biomass crops will be grown seasonally without competing with food crops in the areas. More than 8 million dry tons of forest residues are produced in the region annually. This will be the foundation to create a multi-feedstock biomass supply chain of blended residues and crops. The project will focus on several aspects such as: feedstock production, harvest and logistics, optimization, sustainability, education, and outreach.
Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata (SPARC), Northern Florida
A USDA NIFA AFRI Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grant was awarded to the University of Florida for their SPARC project. Agrisoma and ARA are leading the team’s modeling efforts. The team produced a 6-month work plan for developing a southeast-specific supply chain with implementation expected to be initiated in late 2018 in the multistate region including Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. A dialogue was initiated with Florida Wildlife Federation, an environmental NGO, and Florida state government to gain access to incentives since the project feedstock, carinata (Brassica carinata), used as a cover crop, could provide significant value by limiting nitrogen and phosphorus runoff that leads to water pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Rich Altman, CAAFI’s Executive Director Emeritus, is leading the project’s supply chain development efforts. CAAFI’s Executive Director, Steve Csonka, serves as Chair of the Advisory team for this program.
Collaborators: University of Arizona, Bridgestone, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, New Mexico State University, USDA-ARS, Iowa State University, Pacific Northwest Laboratories, Mercurius Biofuels
Feedstock: guayule and guar
Technology: Renewable Acid-hydrolysis Condensation Hydrotreating (REACH)
A USDA NIFA AFRI Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grant was awarded to the University of Arizona for their SBAR project. The project aims to cultivate two desert-adapted crops, guayule (Parthenium argentatum) and guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), as feedstocks for biofuels. Research, development, and deployment activities goals include:
- improving the feedstocks;
- producing feedstock in a sustainable manner;
- understanding how conversion to fuel is affected by variable feedstock quality; and
- enhancing transport, techno-economic, and sustainability models to provide a clear path to commercialization.
Iowa State University, Pacific Northwest Laboratories, and Mercurius Biofuels Inc. will be engaged midway through the project to scale up bagasse conversion and upgrading to biofuels. CAAFI’s Executive Director, Steve Csonka, serves as Chair of the Advisory team for this program.
ASCENT Project 01 Supply Chain Development Regional Efforts
The CAAFI Administrative Leadership Team contributes to the oversight and execution plans for the ASCENT Project 01 Regional Deployment Projects.
Inland Northwest Region, Washington
Collaborator: Washington State University
Feedstock: Lipids (oilseeds and waste fats, oils and greases (FOG))
Technology: Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA-SPK) and/or Catalytic hydrothermolysis (CH-SK)
The inland Northwest has the potential to produce a significant amount of oilseeds and has several potential sources of waste FOG. The WSU team has already laid the groundwork for a deployment project in the region, having already interviewed and surveyed stakeholders and assessed waste FOG potential. The project team is currently evaluating potential regional oilseed production, identifying opportunities for a hub-and-spoke type supply chain structure, and assessing the community assets that may enable the development of a deployment opportunity. Expanded stakeholder outreach will identify potential supply chain partners and opportunities for concrete deployment activities.
Collaborator: University of Hawaii
Feedstocks: construction and demolition waste, Eucalyptus spp.
Technology: Lignocellulosic (specific technology TBD)
In 2015, the FAA added the University of Hawaii to the ASCENT Center of Excellence Project 1 team to work collaboratively with other universities in ASCENT Supply Chain Analysis targeting tropical and sub-tropical feedstock opportunities. The ASCENT 01 team is laying the groundwork for AJF deployment opportunities in Hawaii. The teams’ efforts include review of potential biomass resources and associated SAF conversion technology data, evaluation of coproducts from SAF biomass feedstocks, and evaluation of supply chain systems relevant to Hawaii and island energy systems. Each is described in more detail below.
The review of potential biomass resources and associated SAF conversion technology data identified 17 plants that produce oil, fiber, and sugar feedstocks and summarized information on cultural practices, yield ranges, invasiveness, and mechanization status. Available data on pretreatment requirements and conversion processes for the 17 feedstocks, including mass and energy balances, product and byproduct yield and quality, and scale requirements/unit sizes, were reviewed.
A campaign to characterize the fuel properties of construction and demolition (C&D) waste generated on the island of Oahu was undertaken. This effort included time series data to assess the temporal variation of material mined from an existing C&D landfill. Fuel characterization included ultimate, proximate, heating value, elemental and ash deformation temperatures analyses. Results are currently in review for publication; check back soon. Current work includes gasification testing of C&D material to (1) assess element partitioning among the product streams, (2) explore fuel blending options with “clean” fuels, and (3) identify contaminant control strategies.
Used cooking oil and animal fat (tallow) resources have lead the commercial entry of SAF into the marketplace. Pongamia (Milletia pinnata) is a leguminous tropical tree that produces an oil bearing seed suitable for SAF production using several technologies. Pongamia seed/pod properties, pretreatment of pods to improve fuel characteristics, and pod torrefaction have been explored to support design of pongamia based SAF production systems and coproduct development.
The closure of raw sugar and canned pineapple processing industries in Hawaii resulted in underutilization of agricultural land in Hawaii. Building from the review of potential biomass resources, an assessment of areas suitable for the production of energy crops and estimates of feedstock production potential is nearing completion. This will provide information to support planning by agricultural interests, SAF project developers, NGOs, and policy makers. Results are currently being summarized; check back soon.
Urban wood waste and construction and demolition debris in Lualualei on Oahu, Hawaii 2018.
Photo courtesy of PVT Land, LLC.
Southeast Region, Tennessee
Collaborator: University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK)
Feedstocks: Lipids and/or woody biomass
The ASCENT Project 01 team and CAAFI are considering possible supply chain elements and structures to leverage the significant agricultural and silvicultural resources of the Tennessee region. The team is assessing the feedstock production potential, the stakeholder interests and opportunities, social capital assets, and potential supply chain participants to lay the groundwork for a future deployment effort in this region.
In collaboration with several entities in the region, including local, state, and federal interests, CAAFI is working with Pennsylvania State University to formulate a broad approach for addressing the need to reduce nutrient loading of the Chesapeake watershed while simultaneously developing a range of feedstocks (perennials, cover crops) that could be utilized for fuel production.
CAAFI has explored concepts in conjunction with state and Colorado State University interests and the USDA NIFA CAP-funded Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR) project. Feedstocks of interest include lipids (tallow, oilseeds) and forestry residues.
CAAFI is exploring the potential to partner with the SPARC project.
CAAFI, in partnership with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and several universities, has initiated workshops focused on the development of a winter cover oilseed, pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), that may fit with the corn/soybean crop rotation prevalent in the region, and be readily adaptable by farmers.
In collaboration with the Great Plains Institute and other interests, several concepts are being explored as integrated projects. The Great Plains Institute is organizing a workshop to look at various perennials and cover crops in the state as part of an effort to help the state government firm up a new program that would provide policy support for more sustainable agricultural solutions. Outreach to commercial entities in the region to gauge interest in the concept has been conducted, including Land O’Lakes, General Mills, and PepsiCo, among others.
Central Appalachian Region
A broad team, including ASCENT researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS), the Center for Natural Capital, and CAAFI participants submitted a full proposal to the 2017 Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant solicitation for hardwood-derived sustainable aviation jet fuel supply chain development in the region (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). This region has an abundant supply of hardwood biomass, lands suitable for dedicated feed supply production, and is strategically located to serve east coast end-users. A second proposal by the same team and the University of West Virginia was submitted to the U.S. Forest Service’s 2018 Wood Innovation Grants (WIG) for biorefinery co-product market development. Beyond its regional importance, these efforts represent a new and significant collaboration between the F2F2 state teams and ASCENT.
The Virginia F2F2 team is seeking funding through a Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund proposal to build resilient woody biomass-based supply chains in the state. This approach is supported by the results of a previous CIT-funded study, which analyzed various aviation biofuel pathways to determine commercial viability within the Commonwealth and to implement a F2F2 program in Virginia. That study showed robust woody biomass supply quantity and cost viability in Virginia. The VA F2F2 team is also seeking funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a site selection project in Southwest Virginia (SWVA). The proposal will be both a companion approach to the broader BRDI proposal for the Central Appalachian region and will stand on its own as a planning activity to enable and facilitate biorefinery siting options in SWVA for lead processor candidates. This effort is the first formal joint ARC/F2F2 proposal facilitated by ARC and CAAFI dialog. The team is now considering opportunities to expand their focus from SWVA to provide an alternative to recently lost pulp and paper processing capacity in central Virginia. Significantly, the location coincides with pipeline pumping stations, access points for the entire northeast.