Tue 5 Jan 2016 － The Port of Seattle, the governing authority of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), is partnering with Boeing and Alaska Airlines on a $250,000 feasibility study that will assess costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver aviation biofuel blends to airlines serving the airport. Under long-term roadmap plans, the ambition is for all flights departing Sea-Tac, which currently handles more than 380,000 flights annually, to be powered by sustainable aviation biofuel. The Port has a goal of reducing aircraft-related carbon emissions by 25% by 2037. A key strategy to achieving this is through such fuels and it has been involved in a number of regional research initiatives and the development of a market-support role. Alaska’s interest in the use of sustainable fuels goes back five years and was the first US airline to fly multiple flights using a blended biofuel.
An RFP for the infrastructure study will be issued in the spring and it is expected to be completed by the end of the year. As part of the biofuel roadmapping process, the Port will manage the study and would handle the the engineering and integration of the biofuel infrastructure on Port property, such as the airport’s fuel farm.
The Port of Seattle Commissioner, John Creighton, said the partnership with Boeing and Alaska on the study would signal to airlines and biofuel producers that the airport was ready to integrate commercial-scale use of aviation biofuels.
“Biofuel infrastructure will make Sea-Tac Airport an attractive option for any airline committing to use biofuel, and will assist in attracting biofuel producers to the region as part of a longer-term market development strategy,” he said.
As Sea-Tac points out, aviation biofuels are not yet produced in Washington state and must be imported by truck, rail or barge. The flights made by Alaska in 2011 were powered by 20% blends made from used cooking oil and waste animal fat (see article). However, the airline says within the next year it expects to fly the first-ever commercial flight on alcohol-to-jet fuel produced by Gevo, which is currently undergoing certification by ASTM (see article). In addition, as a partner in the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), it plans to fly a demonstration flight this year using a new aviation biofuel made from forest industry waste.
Joe Sprague, Alaska’s SVP Communications & External Relations, said the airline wants to incorporate biofuel into flight operations at one or more of its hubs by 2020, with Sea-Tac as its first choice.
“Biofuel offers the greatest way to further reduce our emissions,” he said. “This study is a critical step in advancing our environmental goals and stimulating aviation biofuel production in the Pacific Northwest.”
Added Boeing VP Strategy Sheila Remes: “Boeing, Washington state’s largest employer, is proud to work with our customer Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle to power every plane at Sea-Tac with a biofuel blend and lead the way for other airports to do the same.”
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