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Sugar Valley Energy bio-refinery to address SAF demand

Valley Energy, a new 160-acre bioenergy campus planned in California’s Imperial Valley, intends to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel for the airline industry, announced California Ethanol + Power CEO and President David Rubenstein on February 2, 2024. The project could produce up to 61 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) annually.

The move helps address a key objective of the aviation industry, which aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The adoption of SAF at Sugar Valley Energy (SVE) will help contribute toward this goal in a strategic location near seven Southern California airports as well as numerous general aviation and military airports and is responsive to a significant renewable energy niche. “Ultimately, diversifying our product offering to the broadest possible customer base will accelerate our financing process,” said David Rubenstein, President and CEO of California Ethanol + Power, parent company developing SVE.

Sugar Valley Energy is a sustainable 160-acre biorefinery campus now in its final development stage and is comprised of the ethanol production facility, a bioelectric power island and wastewater treatment facility.  In addition to SAF, sustainable energy products produced at SVE will include low-carbon sugarcane ethanol for transportation fuels blending, renewable natural gas (RNG), renewable diesel (RD), electricity, CO2, hydrogen and local wastewater treatment connections to benefit regional businesses and residents.

The project is expected to support up to 15,000 jobs during construction and first year of operation, as well as approximately 2,000 agricultural jobs at full scale feedstock production. The sugarcane feedstock will be grown locally, directly controlled by SVE and fully contracted with nearby Imperial Valley farmers.  SVE has developed a robust long-term feedstock program and envisions growers currently producing alfalfa for animal feed export markets to switch to sugarcane production.

SAF produces up to 80% fewer lifecycle carbon emissions than the traditional jet fuel it replaces. In January 2023, the EPA approved a pathway to make SAF and Renewable Diesel from sugarcane ethanol. SVE’s ethanol from sugarcane will have the lowest carbon intensity of all feedstocks for sustainable aviation fuel in the state of California.

SVE’s SAF will employ alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) technology, a proven solution for commercial production of both sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel. The technology was first developed and extensively tested by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a US Department of Energy (US DOE) National Laboratory. Specifically, the process converts ethanol to Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) and Synthetic Paraffinic Diesel (SPD). The process is an approved pathway to produce SAF in accordance with ASTM D7566 Annex A5, which permits blending up to 50% with conventional jet aviation fuel.


This article was originally published on Feb 2, 2024 by Hydrocarbon Processing. You can read the original article here.

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