Techno-economic and life-cycle analyses of sustainable aviation fuel production via integrated catalytic deoxygenation and hydrothermal gasification

Great C. Umenweke, Robert B. Pace, Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, Jude A. Okolie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Several technologies have been developed to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the hydroprocessing of esters and fatty acids (HEFA) representing one of the most mature pathways. Although HEFA has been widely adopted by industry, this pathway is mainly reliant on the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) reaction, which requires large amounts and high pressures of hydrogen gas that reduces the cost-effectiveness of the process. In this study, the economic, environmental, and exergy analyses of two alternative scenarios for the catalytic production of SAF were considered. In both scenarios, SAF is produced through the catalytic deoxygenation of tall oil fatty acid (TOFA) via decarboxylation/decarbonylation (deCOx) – an approach requiring smaller amounts and lower pressures of hydrogen, feedstocks of lower purity and cost, and simpler supported metal catalysts relative to HDO. The material and energy balance was calculated using Aspen Plus process simulation software. Scenario 1 comprises a plant in which the catalytic deoxygenation of TOFA via deCOx is performed using hydrogen gas obtained commercially, while scenario 2 integrates catalytic deoxygenation with a plant that produces hydrogen gas via hydrothermal gasification. The study revealed that both scenarios were economically feasible relative to other pathways for SAF production, with the minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) of scenario 2 (USD$ 0.39/L) being lower than that of scenario 1 (USD$ 0.62/L). In addition to being the most economically viable, scenario 2 was also found to be preferable from an environmental standpoint since it also shows a lower global warming potential (GWP). Discounted cash flow analysis (DCFA) was used to determine other economic indicators such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), net rate of return (NRR) and payback period (PBP), which was estimated to be approximately 3 years for both scenarios. Finally, sensitivity analysis confirms that the raw materials and equipment purchase costs have the greatest impact on the MFSP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139215
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Decarbonylation
  • Decarboxylation
  • Hydrothermal gasification
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel
  • Techno-economic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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