Techno-economic review of alternative fuels and propulsion systems for the aviation sector
Review article, 2021

Substitution of conventional jet fuel with low-to zero-carbon-emitting alternative aviation fuels is vital for meeting the climate targets for aviation. It is important to understand the technical, environmental, and economic performance of alternative aviation fuels and prospective engine and propulsion technologies for future aircraft. This study reviews alternative fuels and propulsion systems, focusing on costs and technical maturity, and presents conceptual aircraft designs for different aviation fuels. The cost review includes minimum jet fuel selling price (MJFSP) for alternative aviation fuels. Direct operating cost (DOC) is estimated based on the conceptual aircraft designs and the reviewed MJFSP. The DOCs for bio-jet fuel (5.0–9.2 US cent per passenger-kilometer (¢/PAX/km)), fossil and renewable liquefied hydrogen (5.9–10.1 and 8.1–23.9 ¢/PAX/km, respectively), and electro-methane and electro-jet fuel (5.6–16.7 and 9.2–23.7 ¢/PAX/km, respectively) are higher than for conventional jet fuel (3.9–4.8 ¢/PAX/km) and liquefied natural gas (4.2–5.2 ¢/PAX/km). Overall, DOC of renewable aviation fuels is 15–500 % higher than conventional jet fuels. Among the bio-jet fuels, hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (23–310 $/GJ) and alcohol-to-jet (4–215 $/GJ) pathways offer the lowest MJFSPs. The implementation of alternative fuels in existing aircraft engines and the design and development of appropriate propulsion systems and aircraft are challenging. The overall cost is a key factor for future implementation. Bio-jet fuel is most promising in the near term while hydrogen and electrofuels in the long term. The level of carbon tax on fossil jet fuels needed for the latter options to be competitive depend on the hydrogen production cost.

Aircraft propulsion

Cost

Biofuels

Electrofuels

Future aviation fuels

Hydrogen

Author

Karna Dahal

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Maritime Studies, Maritime Environmental Sciences

Selma Brynolf

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Maritime Studies, Maritime Environmental Sciences

Carlos Xisto

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Fluid Dynamics

Julia Hansson

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Maritime Studies, Maritime Environmental Sciences

Maria Grahn

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Maritime Studies, Maritime Environmental Sciences

Tomas Grönstedt

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Fluid Dynamics

Mariliis Lehtveer

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology, Energy Technology 2

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

1364-0321 (ISSN)

Vol. 151 111564

Subject Categories

Aerospace Engineering

Bioenergy

Energy Systems

DOI

10.1016/j.rser.2021.111564

More information

Latest update

8/25/2021