A comparative techno-economic assessment of three bio-oil upgrading routes for aviation biofuel production

Stavros Michailos*, Anthony Bridgwater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aviation industry continues to grow, and consequently, more fuel is needed. With the intention of decarbonising the aviation sector, sustainable routes that have the potential to mitigate emissions, such as biomass fast pyrolysis, can positively contribute to this direction. Within this context, the present study performs a comparative techno-economic evaluation of aviation biofuel manufacture via the main bio-oil upgrading pathways, namely, hydroprocessing (HP), gasification followed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (G+FT), and zeolite cracking (ZC). The research constitutes the first endeavour to investigate and compare the feasibility of producing biojet fuel via pyrolysis-based routes. The presented work provides an inclusive evaluation that comprises process modelling and financial assessment. Based on the simulations, overall energy efficiencies of 48.8%, 45.73%, and 45.38% and jet fuel energy efficiencies of 23.70%, 21.45%, and 20.53% were calculated, while the implementation of a discounted cash flow analysis estimated minimum jet fuel selling prices (MJSPs) of 1.98, 2.32, and 2.21 $/L for the HP, the G+FT, and the ZC, respectively. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the processes are capital and feedstock intensive while an increase to the bio-oil yield will favour the economic performance of the examined biorefineries. An increase of the plant size from 100 (base case) to 150 dry tonnes per hour of feedstock will decrease the selling prices by approximately 25% for all cases. Monte Carlo simulations exhibited that without establishing and/or maintaining appropriate policy schemes, there is no pragmatic prospect for the examined biorefineries to beat the competition against the prevailing oil infrastructures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7206-7228
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Research
Issue number13
Early online date25 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Michailos, S, Bridgwater, A. A comparative techno‐economic assessment of three bio‐oil upgrading routes for aviation biofuel production. Int J Energy Res. 2019; 1– 23, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/er.4745.  This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Funding: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


  • aviation biofuel
  • fast pyrolysis
  • policy scenario
  • process simulation
  • techno-economic analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparative techno-economic assessment of three bio-oil upgrading routes for aviation biofuel production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this