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China's Sinopec Zhenhai to start producing biojet fuel in May

  • Author
  • Staff
  • Editor
  • Ankit Ajmera
  • Commodity
  • Agriculture Energy Transition Oil

Chinese company Sinopec's flagship refinery Zhenhai Refining & Chemical in the eastern Zhejiang province will start producing biojet fuel in May, a refinery source said April 29.

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Zhenhai has received a certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials for its biojet fuel unit that will enable the refinery to sell biojet fuel in the world market.

The refinery aims to produce on-spec biojet fuel in June, and hopes to get the airworthiness certification in August, Sinopec said on its website.

The 100,000 mt/year biojet fuel unit, which was completed in 2020, is the first existing unit of its kind in China.

Biojet fuel is a sustainable aviation fuel and an alternative to traditional jet fuel. It is produced by converting sustainable feedstocks into fuel. It is mostly manufactured from biowaste, including agricultural waste, fats and/or oils, or residue raw materials.

The unit will mainly use waste cooking oil and fat as raw materials to produce biojet fuel, the refinery source said.

The supply of waste cooking oil and fat is not stable, an industry source said, implying that the refinery may not be able to find enough suitable feedstock for production.

"Those waste cooking oil and fat is mostly collected from restaurants and is about twice more expensive than gasoil refined from crude," said the industry source. As a result, some palm acid oil is usually mixed with other raw materials for the fuel's production, according to the industry source.

The SAF market, although tiny in comparison with the traditional jet fuel market, is poised to grow steadily over the coming decades as many companies commit to net-zero carbon targets.

China in January introduced energy intensity and carbon emissions targets for the aviation industry in its 14th Five-Year plan. The country's aviation sector aims to reduce carbon emissions per ton-km by 4.5% by 2025 from 2020 levels, and energy consumption per person-time at the airport by 10%, according to the plan.

The European Commission wants SAF to account for 5% of aviation fuels in the EU by 2030, and 63% by 2050 as part of its ReFuelEU Aviation initiative. Airlines will be obliged to use SAF-blended aviation fuel when departing from EU airports under the initiative. The initiative is part of the EU Green Deal, which is targeting carbon emissions reduction of at least 55% by 2050.