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Jet fuel innovation could be on the horizon for South Dakota

Brent Duerre

Carbon capture and sequestration has been a hot topic in the state since recent carbon pipeline PUC hearings.

A company with South Dakota ties says it’s attempting to reduce carbon in the atmosphere by producing a unique product – jet fuel made from corn.

Lake Preston is home to GEVO’s proposed Net-Zero 1 facility. The facility is designed to transform renewable energy into energy-dense liquids.

One of the facility's first goals is to create a sustainable aviation fuel - or “SAF.”

GEVO, like many other fuel product companies, follow a GREET model to analyze carbon throughout the entire production process. GREET stands for The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model. It allows companies to show sustainability and a net-zero footprint.

Paul Bloom is the Chief Carbon Officer for GEVO.

“Argonne GREET is a life cycle assessment tool and they have what’s called the feedstock carbon intensity calculator. So we’ve automated this data collection, we’ve made it fairly simple, and then made sure the data is then immutable. So we’ve got this high quality data because you have to have high quality data to make high quality carbon credits,” said Bloom.  

Biofuel companies are concerned with their carbon intensity score or, CI score. The CI score is what companies track to see if they are reducing, increasing or leveling out their carbon production.

Companies aim to source corn that have CI scores lower than 25 to receive federal carbon credit money.

Bloom said low carbon scores start with the farmer.

“So, we take that low carbon corn, we need to track, again, those attributes that are in that low carbon corn, that low CI, all the way to the field level. Which is really important, that is were the environmental benefit happens. So we want to make sure farmers can get that credit and then we can help them then market and they get rewarded on a performance basis for that CI going forward,” said Bloom.

Bloom said low-carbon corn is where the process of making SAF begins. He said this makes the Net-Zero 1 facility ground zero for farmers to gain access to an entirely new market selling corn.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.