Farm Progress

Brazil ethanol bound for U.S. jet fuel plant

The race is on to supply ethanol feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel. Sugar cane ethanol from Raizen will be used at the Georgia Lanzajet plant.

Bloomberg, Content provider

April 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Airplane jet

By Dayanne Sousa

Brazilian company Raizen SA made the country’s first shipment of sugar-cane ethanol to be converted into green jet fuel in a U.S. plant, as competition heats up to supply the nascent market. 

The sugar and ethanol maker, a joint venture between Shell Plc an Cosan SA, was behind a cargo of ethanol sent to the U.S. in March to be used as feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), according to documents seen by Bloomberg. 

Data from consultancy firm Datagro showed a ship carrying about 25 million liters of ethanol traveled from Brazil’s main port to Savannah, Georgia, near the location where LanzaJet Inc. earlier this year inaugurated the world’s first plant that makes sustainable jet fuel from ethanol. This was the first vessel carrying Brazilian ethanol to take that route, Datagro said.

Raizen confirmed the cargo belonged to the company and that the ship carried ethanol certified for SAF. LanzaJet said in an email that it will be using Raizen’s ethanol at its facility, as well as other sources including ethanol from U.S. corn. 

Brazil producers of sugar-cane ethanol, with benefits from a lower carbon score than the corn-based biofuel typically produced in the U.S., stand to be the first to tap the U.S. market for green jet fuel made from ethanol. Many of the largest Brazilian mills have already been certified to meet many standards worldwide. Sao Martinho SA said it will churn out between 13 million and 15 million liters of SAF-compliant ethanol this season.

Related:World’s first ethanol-to-jet fuel plant opens in Georgia

The race to supply the ethanol feedstock for SAF is critical, as ethanol’s traditional key market — cars with internal combustion engines — has been threatened by the rise of electric vehicles. With about 40% of U.S. corn today supplying domestic mills making ethanol for use as a transportation fuel, farmers and mills alike are anxious to compete in lucrative new markets like low-carbon jet fuel. 

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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