ProQR ends its activities with an important legacy for clean aviation. Over six years, the project has achieved several impacts in the Brazilian aviation sector. ProQR’s work with the government, the academia and the private sector has contributed to give great prominence to the mitigation of carbon emissions in aviation, aiming to make Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) a reality in Brazil and worldwide.

Throughout this journey, ProQR has favored the achievement of important impacts for the promotion of clean aviation. The project has also carried out several activities which obtained significant results in the dissemination of alternative fuels in a multi-sectoral and international scope.

With support from ProQR:

  • The regulatory agency responsible for fuels in Brazil published a resolution that defines the concept of SAF and establishes the permitted production routes;
  • A series of calls for proposals were published for public funding to support research in the area of alternative fuels for aviation;
  • An advisory committee was formed with the participation of ministries, regulatory agencies, universities and companies for discussions on SAF in Brazil; (SENAI ISI-ER; UFG; CIBiogas)
  • Partnerships have been signed between the Brazil-Germany Cooperation that will result in the construction of three laboratory plants for the production of synthetic crude oil and SAF;
  • The Brazilian government has also financed the construction of a laboratory plant for the study and production of SAF.

In addition, ProQR:

  • In partnership with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), produced a teaching material on SAF in Brazil, as well as 4 studies on the topic;
  • Also with the DLR, it trained university professors to use this didactic material;
  • In partnership with the Brazilian Network of Biokerosene and Sustainable Hydrocarbons for Aviation (RBQAV), supported the organisation of two congresses that acted as forums on the aviation of the future;
  • Published 9 pioneering scientific knowledge studies on SAF covering economic, political, technological and regulatory aspects;
  • Promoted training events that, in all, trained more than 160 specialists;
  • Was recognised as a national and international reference in alternative fuels for aviation by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI);
  • Held 8 technical visits that took key players to the SAF theme in Brazil in missions to Germany;
  • In the most recent technical visit, it participated with a delegation of Brazilian experts in the International Aviation Exhibition (ILA), in Berlin.

“ProQR thrives on cooperation. Brazil and Germany work together for a sustainable future. In the ProQR project this means that we are promoting a technology to decarbonise the aviation sector in Brazil, but also internationally. This opens up an opportunity for Brazil to export this technology to the world.”

Tina Ziegler, director of the ProQR project

ProQR is the result of a partnership between Brazil and Germany to combine Brazil’s potential for renewable energies and its tradition in alternative fuels with German expertise and technology. Implemented through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in cooperation with the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), it received funding from the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) within the scope of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). 

The project emerged with the purpose of contributing for Brazil to become a protagonist in the SAF market. Towards the net zero goal for carbon emissions in aviation, ProQR defended a disruptive approach: producing fuel through Power-to-Liquid technology, which has clean energy, CO2 and water as feedstock. Also thinking of reducing emissions during transportation of the fuel, the project disseminated the concept of small modular plants, close to airports, to produce SAF already at the place of consumption, in a local and decentralised way.

After a profitable journey, ProQR comes to an end in 2023. In addition to several results and impacts, the project leaves the legacy of a cooperation that would not have been possible without all its partners, who contributed and keep contributing for clean aviation to take off.  Check below a retrospective of the main impacts achieved in the promotion of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in Brazil.

ProQR at the forefront of sustainable aviation

ProQR’s actions have kept pace with the growing prominence that decarbonisation of the aviation sector has gained on the international agenda. When the project began in 2017, such international discussions were just beginning. The signing in the previous year of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) established the importance of reducing the climate impacts of aviation. It became imperative for the Brazilian airline sector to take a major step towards sustainable fuels and ProQR worked from the very outset to provide support on this journey. In the quest to consolidate the production and use of SAF in Brazil and worldwide, the project has achieved important impacts.

“Depending on scale, the first commercial plants producing alternative aviation fuels as we describe will likely be available within the next five years. For something that can be bought off the shelf and directly launched, it may need up to ten years more. That’s why we need to hurry. Progress also depends on greater enforcement of international regulation.” 

Eduardo Soriano, ProQR project director

Acting as a catalyst for the inclusion of SAF in the Brazilian energy matrix, the project has promoted dialogues between government, academia and private initiative around the theme. In 2019, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) defined in a resolution updated in 2021, the concept of Alternative Aviation Kerosene and the permitted production routes. In addition, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) coordinated, between the years 2021 and 2022, the National Fuel of the Future Programme which in its ProBioQAV Subcommittee initiated the process of building public policy for SAF.

More recently, the project has encouraged Brazilian government support for clean aviation projects. In order to promote the strengthening of SAF production technologies in Brazil, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) published three calls for proposals to finance research, development and innovation in this area. More than R$ 60 million was allocated to initiatives that will play a key role in expanding Brazilian technical knowledge on Power-to-Liquid processes and other routes for the production of SAF.

The working of ProQR side by side with the academia had the support of several institutions, committed to the pioneering dissemination of scientific knowledge on clean aviation. Together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR, in its acronym in German), the project produced the didactic material “Alternative Fuels for Aviation in Brazil”, aimed at supporting the training of professionals to learn about the processes of PtL SAF technology and its application in Brazil. The partnership also provided a face-to-face training with the DLR that trained twenty-one Brazilian university professors to use the material.

Another important partnership that has accompanied the project since its creation has been with the Brazilian Network of Biokerosene and Sustainable Hydrocarbons for Aviation (RBQAV), an institution created to engage Brazilian academia in alternative fuels and clean aviation. ProQR supported the two congresses of the Network, in 2019 and 2022. Events that brought together various authorities and companies in the aviation sector and promoted the scientific dissemination of the work of researchers and students on alternative fuels in Brazil and worldwide.

What to expect from the aviation of the future?

“The 41st ICAO Assembly was a turning point in the SAF issue: SAF now goes from desired to indispensable.”

Rogério Benevides, Director of the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC)

In the coming years, clean aviation should gain more and more prominence in view of the new international commitments signed within the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). To actively contribute to the net zero goal by 2050, Brazil will need to consolidate public policies for SAF, through mandates for fuel use and regulatory legislation aligned with global standards. Thus, private initiative investments and international partnerships will have more security to develop this new market. With the construction of large-scale SAF production plants throughout Brazil, the country could become a major representative of international clean aviation.

In this article, only a portion of the impacts achieved by the ProQR project were shared. All this effort was aimed at achieving a more sustainable and less climate damaging aviation, a theme that timidly emerged in international dialogues in 2016 and that today has its urgency globally recognised. 

ProQR’s work has contributed to the emergence of an innovation ecosystem for SAF in Brazil, which will be fundamental for the country to play an active role in the pursuit of the goal of net zero aviation by 2050. Such contribution was only possible with commitment and teamwork, for which ProQR thanks all its partners.

Vitória Souza contributed to this article.

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