BIOfuels production from Syngas FERmentation for Aviation and maritime use

Aviation and maritime transport have a direct impact on global greenhouse gas emissions and air quality. One solution to mitigate this issue is sustainable fuels. The EU-funded BioSFerA project will develop a cost-effective technology that will gasify biogenic residues and wastes. The produced syngas will be fermented to produce bio-based triacylglycerides (microbial oil) which, in turn, will be hydrotreated, resulting in drop-in biofuels for aviation and maritime transport.

The project will conduct both lab and pilot tests to optimise and validate the process and increase its overall performance with regard to the feedstock flexibility, the final product yield and production cost. It will also carry out an assessment of the related environmental, social, health and safety risks.


BioSFerA aims to develop a cost-effective interdisciplinary technology to produce sustainable aviation and maritime fuels. Thus, biogenic residues and wastes will be gasified and the syngas will be fermented to produce bio-based triacylglycerides (TAGs). Bio-fuels will be produced via TAG hydrotreatment. The overall process, combining thermochemical, biological and thermocatalytic parts is based on the gasification of biomass and other biogenic waste in a Dual Fluidized Bed gasifier and the 2-stage fermentation of the produced syngas.

Through this process the syngas is converted to acetate (1st stage) and then the acetate is converted to TAGs (2nd stage). The produced TAGs contained medium and long fatty acids are hydrotreated and isomerized after the necessary separation and purification and the end-products are jet- and bunker-like biofuels, respectively.

BioSFerA aims to evolve the proposed technology from TRL3 to TRL5. In the TRL3 phase, extensive lab scale tests will take place in order to optimize the process and increase its feedstock flexibility in terms of non-food bio-based blends.

The best acetogenic bacterial strain will be identified based on its tolerance to syngas contaminants. Moreover, oleaginous yeasts will be genetically modified to convert the acetate derived from the first stage into C14 and C16-18 TAGs. Then, building upon lab tests, the pilot scale runs (TRL5) will investigate the overall process. At least two barrels of Hydrotreated TAGs will be produced as drop-in biofuels for aviation and marine.

By exploiting the synergies between biological and thermochemical technologies, BioSFerA achieves a total carbon utilization above 35% and a minimum selling price <0.7-0.8 €/l. A process model of the overall BioSFerA process will be developed exploiting the know-how gained during piloting and used for realistic up-scaling calculations. Finally, techno-economic, market, environmental social and health and safety risk assessments will be performed.

More information about the project can be found at the project website.