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Kansas Ethanol Producer Teams With Cellulosic Ethanol Tech Company on SAF Project

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A southwest Kansas ethanol producer announced a pilot project to producer cellulosic ethanol, with plans to eventually launch sustainable aviation fuel production. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A southwest Kansas ethanol producer announced it is launching a cellulosic ethanol pilot plant aimed at using corn stover as a feedstock with plans to eventually produce sustainable aviation fuel.

Conestoga Energy and SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC announced on Thursday that they reached an agreement for Conestoga to host SAFFiRE's cellulosic ethanol pilot plant at Conestoga's Arkalon Energy ethanol plant in Liberal, Kansas.

The SAFFiRE pilot project aims to validate and demonstrate the commercialization of SAFFiRE's corn-stover-to-ethanol technology in a pilot facility that processes 10 tons of corn stover per day, according to a news release from the companies.

"The cellulosic ethanol from the SAFFiRE pilot project and potential future commercial facilities is planned to be upgraded to ultra-low CI sustainable aviation fuel in support of the aviation industry's decarbonization efforts," the companies said in a news release.

SAF is fuel produced from non-fossil fuel sources that can result in lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional jet fuel. SAF is a drop-in fuel when blended with conventional jet fuel.

"This agreement ties in well with Conestoga's rich history of providing carbon-reducing and net-zero solutions in the bioethanol space," Conestoga CEO Tom Willis said in a statement.

"In order to reach stated net-zero carbon emission goals by 2050, the aviation industry will have to embrace SAF. SAFFiRE cellulosic ethanol technology is planned to produce ethanol that can be upgraded to SAF that can be cost-competitive with traditional fossil-based jet fuel."

Conestoga owns two ethanol plants in southwest Kansas and manages over 200 million gallons per year along with related co-products across Kansas and Texas.

Conestoga has been capturing CO2 at its two Kansas plants for more than 14 years, according to the company, primarily used for enhanced oilfield recovery.

In addition, Conestoga said it is actively pursuing its own geologic sequestration project in southwest Kansas. In addition to sequestering nearly 450,000 metric tons of CO2 annually from its Kansas plants, Conestoga produces both corn-based ethanol and cellulosic biofuels.


A group of agriculture, biofuels and aviation industry businesses and interest groups announced the forming of a new coalition designed to push for the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry.

The Americans for Clean Aviation Fuels' founders include Corteva, Growth Energy, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Ohio Soybean Council, Airbus, Delta Airlines and Exxon Mobil.

"Americans for Clean Aviation Fuels brings together industry leaders from diverse sectors to highlight the broad benefits of homegrown fuels to our nation's economy and energy security," said Nick Boeyink, ACAF states director.

"We are leading a national movement to build a future where aviation is powered by American energy sources that are good for the economy and our environment."

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