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How Blockchain Will Encourage Scaling Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Earlier this summer, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) and Shell Aviation made an announcement urging the private sector to help decarbonize air travel by joining their Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) program. Participants would have access to one million gallons of SAF at launch and could take advantage of the program’s new blockchain-powered booking and claims solution.

Powers of Industry

The blockchain solution, Avelia, was developed by energy company Shell and professional services firm Accenture, with support from the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). Nicole Sautter, Global Sustainability Manager, Amex GBT, recently highlighted to Simple Flying that Avelia provides customers with traceable and verifiable reports of emissions saved through the purchase of SAF on the platform.


Overall, customers should benefit from SAF environmental attributes to reflect the carbon reduction benefits of the investment made. Notably, SAF can reduce lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to standard jet fuel and is an alternative fuel that can be blended and used in today’s aircraft with no engineering modifications required.

With net zero goals high on the agenda across the aviation spectrum, SAFs are increasingly becoming an integral asset. Photo: Seashell

The main advantages

Sautter explains that the collaboration helps carriers use SAF by combining the buying power of airlines and Amex GBT business travel customers at scale by aggregating their demand for decarbonization.

“Therefore, airlines identified for co-investment opportunities will benefit from access to SAF at more affordable prices as the cost is shared across the entire aviation value chain.” Shell Aviation will supply SAF to the aviation fuel network where it will be blended with conventional jet fuel. . Booking and claiming allows travelers to invest in SAF and benefit from SAF, even if SAF is not available at their departure airport. Instead, the SAF will be introduced on another aircraft at an airport where it is available.

There is a lot of potential to be had with blockchain in the aviation industry. We’ve seen the likes of SITA tout it as a tool to safely restart travel, and that’s something Sautter also acknowledges.

“We want to support scalable co-investment models, which allow companies to co-finance the cost of SAF. This is crucial for our industry to significantly increase the supply and use of SAF. Therefore, an industry-accepted carbon accounting mechanism, such as accounting and claiming, is essential for these programs to develop credibly. The security and credibility of Avelia’s data is critical to building scientific and business consensus on ways to assign SAF environmental attributes and help us accelerate the decarbonization of aviation. “The platform’s blockchain technology means customers can be truly confident in the security, transparency and accountability of their emissions reduction data. We hope this will encourage greater corporate support and engagement in pilot programs like ours with Shell Aviation.

A new generation

Overall, the program seeks to create a transparent and credible way to reduce travel-related emissions to help achieve corporate sustainability goals. Amex also welcomes NGOs such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the Smart Freight Center and the Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF Guidelines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to observe and engage with the initiative.

Sautter concludes that a key aspect of the Avelia platform is that it offers a solution that is both inclusive and neutral when it comes to airlines, technology production pathways, fuels and raw materials.

The blockchain is a growing list of records (blocks) that are connected using cryptography – each block includes a cryptographic hash of the previous block, along with a timestamp and transaction data. Photo: Seashell

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While alternatives such as electricity and hydrogen have been slated as long-term successors to traditional fuels, SAF should be the initial response before working alongside other processes. Airlines, manufacturers and airports around the world have launched historic SAF initiatives. Just this week, Alaska Airlines finalized a deal for 185 million gallons of SAF. This decision followed Lufthansa’s order for up to 1.8 million SAF from Shell. Impressively, the Lufthansa Group is already the largest SAF customer in Europe.

With many investments at stake in this maturing fuel industry, blockchain will be a valuable asset in this next chapter. The distinct ability of technology to effectively share information instantly and securely among relevant stakeholders, be they airlines, passengers or OEMs, offers limitless opportunities in the years to come.

What do you think of the Amex GBT Sustainable Aviation Fuel Pilot Program? What do you think of the overall prospects of the initiative? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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