(Bloomberg) -- A Swiss startup is betting on an emerging technology to make synthetic jet fuel that it says will one day lower the cost of using cleaner fuels.

Metafuels AG, whose backers include Energy Impact Partners and Contrarian Ventures, says methanol-to-jet tech offers higher emissions savings than alternative sustainable aviation fuels, reducing the volume of SAF that an airline will have to buy to meet green targets set by regulators.

Climate goals mean European airlines will need to slowly start cutting their consumption of jet fuel made from crude oil from 2025. Metafuels hopes that methanol-to-jet technology will be accredited by early next year, when a demonstration plant it’s building in Switzerland is due to start operating. A larger plant in Denmark announced last week with a partner is a longer-term plan. 

“Methanol-to-jet is a promising option, not least as it is compatible with existing infrastructure, so can be quickly integrated,” said Elena Scaltritti, chief commercial officer at Danish engineering company Topsoe. Still, such technologies will need to be “coupled with a significant build-out of renewable power capacity” to be able to make the e-SAF, she said.

SAF currently costs several times more than conventional jet fuel derived from oil. On a recent earnings call, Lufthansa AG’s chief executive officer cited the cleaner type of airplane fuel among cost headwinds it’s facing from next year.

The bulk of SAF production in Europe currently comes from facilities — sometimes converted oil refineries — that run on vegetable oils, used cooking oil and other biomass. There’s concern about the availability of such feedstocks as capacity expands.

Read More: Scarce Fuel Sources Challenge Aviation’s Climate-Friendly Vision

Synthetic versions of SAF, like the one being being worked on by Metafuels, are more advanced and use so-called green hydrogen that’s made from water and renewable power.

Metafuels co-founder Leigh Hackett expects the fuel it plans to produce through its Aerobrew process to fetch a premium to other types of SAF, pointing to what’s known as the low life-cycle analysis, or LCA, emissions rating. But it should ultimately cut airlines’ costs of meeting mandates as they’ll need fewer liters of Aerobrew e-SAF to achieve the same emissions offsets as the bio-SAF that’s currently on the market, he said.

“A low LCA number is where you need to be,” Hackett said. 

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.