Following the successful Q&A roundtable discussion on the future of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in December 2020, I decided to do a video podcast series with several SAF producers and technology developers to get their insight into the future of SAF. For this video podcast, I spoke to Larissa Perotta, technology team manager for the biotechnology renewables group at Axens. We spoke about Axens’ Vegan technology and trends in SAF and hydrotreated vegetable oil. Following are a couple of excerpts from our discussion, which you can view or download below, or listen to in ITunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts or TuneIn.
“So the story of Vegan is quite curious, actually. It was the merger of two big experiences that we had in Axens. On one side, we started pioneering in the field of lipids in the 1980s with transesterification…And this technology was basically one of the milestones for Vegan, because it was the first time we put together lipids on a fixed bed catalytic reactor. That means it was the first time we started seeing what could happen and what could the surprises of putting those two together could be. We took that experience and we saw that markets were evolving toward HVO…with this need and the experience of hydrotreatment that we have from the refining industry, we decided to put them together, and this is how Vegan was born.”
“The biggest push is that decarbonization is a must today. I think it’s really interesting to see how this has been said for many years and has been discussed widely the last 10 years, but really inside the technology group of Axens, we’ve noticed that the COVID situation was also some sort of big click, because people started broadly investigating and asking about how to get green and how to get to something decarbonized very quickly.
I think 2020 was a time where everybody took a step back and said, ‘Okay, something’s going on, let’s rethink the future’ and decarbonization got a very big a share of attention and gained a lot of importance. For many, SAF is a drop-in immediate solution, something that can be applied quite quickly, and I think this is the biggest push here, especially talking for the next 10 years.”
“We see many cases of refineries being converted into biorefineries, not only for these hydrotreatment pathways, which is kind of easy revamp…I would say that nearly half of the new projects that we have are concerned today with them, when we talk about Vegan. So many refineries, many units are getting adapted to be able to treat bio-based feedstock. This is definitely a trend. And it’s an easy way to, to just start doing the big step of getting fully converted.”