The much-anticipated approval of a 100% synthetic jet fuel was announced on April 9 by coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids pioneer Sasol of South Africa.

"Following the several-year period of rigorous testing and evaluation, international aviation fuel authorities, including the UK Ministry of Defence, approved Sasol's wholly-synthetic jet fuel as Jet A1 fuel for commercial use in all types of aircraft," Sasol chief executive Pat Davies announced by teleconference.

The process, overseen by the Aviation Fuels Committee, began nine years ago after Sasol earned its approval for a CTL blend of up to 50%. The company has since supplied it to international airlines operating from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

The current approval, which was expected to be announced in February, covers jet fuel produced at Sasol's Synfuels facility in Secunda, South Africa. Products that will also be submitted for sanction are created at Sasol's Oryx GTL plant in Qatar, the joint venture GTL plant in Nigeria and at potential CTL ventures in the USA, China and India.

In keeping with the stringent regulation of the Joint Checklist, aviation industry stakeholders, including airframe, engine and ancillary equipment manufacturers airlines and aviation authorities such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and relevant oil companies have all participated in the approval process.

Sasol's blend now meets Defence Standard DEFSTAN 91-91, which is used by most nations. The remainder of nations, like the US, rely on ASTM International which references DEFSTAN 91-91 in its own standards.

ASTM is expected to approve in June a process for any qualified fuel suppliers to produce 50% blends for aircraft.