Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University have launched a strategic initiative to promote aviation biofuel development in the Pacific Northwest. The first regional assessment of its kind in the United States, the “Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest” project will look at biomass options within a four-state area as possible sources for creating renewable jet fuel.
The comprehensive assessment will examine all phases of developing a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and actual use by airlines.
It will include an analysis of potential biomass sources that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including algae, agriculturally based oilseeds such as camelina, wood byproducts and others. The project is jointly funded by the participating parties and is expected to be completed in approximately six months.
Developing a sustainable aviation fuel supply now is a top priority both to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity at regional levels and to support the broader aim of achieving carbon-neutral growth across the industry by 2020.
—Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh
The assessment process will be managed by Climate Solutions, a Northwest-based environmental nonprofit organization, which will align the effort to sustainability criteria developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. The project objective is to identify potential pathways and necessary actions to make aviation biofuel commercially available to airline operators serving the region.
The project will begin in July with a kickoff meeting, followed by additional meetings throughout the assessment process. The group of biomass producers, refiners, airport operators, environmental and government organizations, airlines, academic representatives and Boeing will address issues such as scale, commercial viability and environmental considerations.
Air travel currently generates approximately 2% of man-made carbon emissions, and the industry has set aggressive goals to lower its carbon footprint, including the use of aviation biofuel when it becomes available.