Alaska Airlines makes flight on renewable biofuel from residual wood

Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) has reported Alaska Airlines has flown a commercial flight powered by renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests, the company said.

The demonstration flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. was fueled with a 20 percent blend of sustainable aviation biofuel, which is chemically indistinguishable from regular jet A fuel.

The biofuel powering the Alaska Airlines flight is made from excess forest residuals collected from sustainably managed forests owned by Weyerhaeuser, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes.

The company said while the 1,080 gallons of biofuel used on the flight has a minimal impact to Alaska Airlines´ overall greenhouse gas emissions, if the airline were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2. This is equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.

NARA is a five-year project that launched in 2011 and is comprised of 32 member organizations from industry, academia and government laboratories. The NARA initiative was made possible by a USD39.6 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support research on biofuels and biochemicals, foster regional supply chain coalitions, empower rural economic development and educate the public on the benefits of bioenergy.

Alaska Airlines, together with its regional partners, flies 32 million customers a year to more than 110 cities with an average of 970 daily flights throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and soon Cuba.