SEATTLE, WA: November 15, 2016. Alaska Airlines has become the world's first commercial airline to use a biofuel derived from timber residuals in sustainable forests on Native American land in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
The flight from Seattle to Washington National airport was powered by a 20 percent blend from the limbs, stumps and branches collected from forests owned by Weyerhaeuser, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes.
The unique fuel has been produced by the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), led by Washington State University. The five-year initiative is a partnership of 32 organizations from academia, aviation, private industry, and the federal government.
"Today is a tribute to all of our NARA partners to facilitate the revolutionary development of biojet and bioproduct industries in the Pacific Northwest using forest residuals that would otherwise become waste products," said Ralph Cavalieri, NARA executive director.
NARA partner Gevo used a patented technology to convert cellulosic sugars from wood waste into renewable isobutanol, which was then further converted into Gevo's Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) fuel.
According to the company, the use of forest residuals for biofuel feedstock does not compete with food production; air pollution is cut by the reduction of slash pile burning; and clearing residuals prepares a forest floor for replanting.
Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines' senior vice president of communications and external relations commented: "This latest milestone in Alaska's efforts to promote sustainable biofuels is especially exciting since it is uniquely sourced from the forest residuals in the Pacific Northwest."
The airline said replacing 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Seattle airport would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 142,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.