Renewable Diesel and Sustainable Aviation Fuel to Drive US Energy Exports

By Published On: April 20, 2023Categories: Daily Market News & Insights

The United States is set to become a net exporter of renewable diesel (RD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Federal and state incentives are driving production, and the demand for these fuels is growing also, thanks partially to various governmental policies, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


RD and SAF are renewable-based alternatives to traditional diesel and jet fuel, respectively. They are chemically similar to their petroleum-based counterparts and can serve as “drop-in” replacements for them. They also provide lower-carbon alternatives to traditional fuels, helping to reduce carbon emissions.


US Production

Energy production has ramped up significantly in the US since the long-standing ban on most crude exports was lifted over seven years ago. While crude oil exports have been the main focus of US energy exports to date, RD and SAF are now driving increased flows of US-sourced hydrocarbons to export terminals and overseas markets.


The production process involves reacting a renewable feedstock — such as vegetable oil or waste cooking oil — with hydrogen over a catalyst. After, the resulting mixture is processed to separate the liquid hydrocarbons from any unreacted hydrogen and water. This is followed by a fractionation process, which separates the hydrocarbons into different components, and distillation, which further purifies and separates the components into usable fuels.


Sustainable Initiatives on the Rise

The growth of renewable diesel (RD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production has been influenced by the worldwide transition to sustainable energy sources. This trend is driven by sustainable initiatives such as the Road to Net Zero, which seeks to achieve net zero global carbon emissions by 2050. It’s important to mention that CO2 emissions alone accounted for roughly 79% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.


Source: EPA



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