Alaska Airlines uses biofuel from forest residuals
On the 14th of November 2016, Alaska Airlines made history flying the first commercial flight using the world's first renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. The alternative jet fuel was produced through the efforts of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA).
The demonstration flight departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. The flight was fueled with a 20 percent blend of sustainable aviation biofuel, which is chemically indistinguishable from regular jet A fuel. The flight, the first commercial passenger flight of its kind, continues to advance viable alternatives to conventional fossil fuels for aviation.
Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines' Senior Vice President of Communications and External Relations, said: "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."
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 Seattle-Tacoma 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. NARA and Alaska aims to develop alternative jet fuel derived from post-harvest forestry material that is often burned after timber harvest. The forest residual feedstock used to power Alaska Airlines Flight 4 was sourced from tribal lands and private forestry operations in the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to producing 1,080 gallons of biofuel used for the flight, other key tasks of the project included evaluating the economic, environmental, and societal benefits and impacts associated with harvesting unused forest residuals for biofuel production.
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