Initiative aims to turn forest residues into aviation fuel 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015

Alaska Airlines will partner with a Northwest-based aviation biofuels collaborative with the goal of flying a test flight next year on alternative jet fuel.

The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, a five-year initiative that is funded by the Department of Agriculture, is focusing on jet fuel made from forest residues that is often otherwise burned after the timber harvest.

“Developing alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals represents a significant economic challenge with considerable sustainability benefits,” Michael Wolcott, co-director of the initiative, said in a statement.

Alaska Airlines, which in 2011 flew several commercial flights on jet fuel made from used cooking oil, plans to fly a plane using 1,000 gallons of fuel produced by the collaboration.

“Sustainable biofuels are a key to aviation’s future and critical in helping the industry and Alaska Airlines reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels,” said Joe Sprague, the airline company’s senior vice president of external relations.

Washington State University leads the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, and its 22 members include industry, academia and government organizations. It is operating under a competitive grant provided by USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.