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Unlocking the potential of biofuels production in Europe

Aircraft and biofuel container
Decarbonising the aviation and marine transport sector will lead Europe towards a sustainable, circular and netzero emission economy.. Photo: Shutterstock
The EU project REFOLUTION aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft and ships by developing advanced and cost-effective biofuels.

Advanced biofuels have the potential to decarbonize the transport sector by saving several gigatons of CO2 emission per year. With a blending mandate of 63 percent for sustainable aviation fuels, and a 70 percent reduction in emissions from ships, advanced biofuel will be among the solutions to reach an EU net zero emissions economy by 2050 and reach the green shift for the aviation and marine transport sector.

REFOLUTION is a new 4-years-long project funded by Horizon Europe, which will deliver a cost-effective production of advanced biofuels via a process that can be implemented in existing European refineries.

Second-generation biofuels

While conventional biofuels are produced from feedstocks that can also be used to produce food or animal feed (first-generation biofuels), advanced biofuels are mainly produced from residues and waste from the food industry, agriculture or forestry (second-generation biofuels).

However, the development of advanced biofuels is hampered by a conjunction of several factors: the complex conversion of biomass feedstock, the massive investments needed for each new refinery unit, the lack of certification for market adoption and the lack of good methods for tracing green carbon from feedstock to products.

These issues will the project now investigate:

REFOLUTION tackles three key barriers to achieving climate goals for the transport sector - establishing routes to sustainable biofuels for de-carbonize aviation and marine sector, scaling-up biofuel production and taking the first steps towards certifying for safe use in commercial engines, says Duncan Akporiaye, coordinator of the project at SINTEF.


REFOLUTION is a Horizon Europe-project, under Grant Agreement number 101096780. The project started in January 2023 and has a total duration of 54 months - to January 2027. The project Kick-Off meeting took place on 24-25 January 2023 in Oslo, Norway.

The consortium is coordinated by SINTEF and counts 14 partners from 8 European countries, covering the full biofuel value chain: VTT, NESTE (Finland), OMV (Austria), University of Rostock, DLR, GRACE (Germany), BTG Biomass Technology Group, BTG Bioliquids, BTG-NeXt, University of Groningen (The Netherlands), CNRS (France), ETA Florence Renewable Energies (Italy), CEPSA (Spain).

In line with the Green Deal’s objectives, the REFOLUTION action will contribute to decarbonize the aviation and marine transport leading Europe towards a sustainable, circular and netzero emission economy.

Towards large-scale biofuel production

The project will develop and demonstrate an innovative process to convert pyrolysis oil from biomass. To use this pyrolysis oil as biofuel, it must first be further processed. REFOLUTION will work on developing technology to integrate this refinement into conventional processes in already existing oil refineries for large-scale biofuel production. At the same time, the project will contribute to increased digitalisation in the refinery and develop innovative tools for green carbon tracking along the whole process, so that the content of green carbon can be optimized, and standards validated.

The implementation of the technology in commercial scale is expected to reduce the investments costs with 50 percent and operating costs by 45 percent, compared to the construction of stand-alone devices.

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