Feasibility study identifies sites to support supply of up to 50 million gallons per year of aviation biofuel to Sea-Tac Airport
(photo: Port of Seattle)
Thu 19 Jan 2017 – A first-of-its-kind study has identified the best infrastructure options for delivering blended sustainable aviation biofuel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). Commissioned by the Port of Seattle, Boeing and Alaska Airlines, the study evaluated more than 30 sites around Washington State that could potentially support the receipt, blending, storage and delivery infrastructure required to supply Sea-Tac with up to five million gallons per year of biofuel in the short term (12-18 months) and 50 million gallons per year in the long term (two to 10 years). An aviation biofuel production plant was not considered in this study but will be an important next step once a long-term biofuel source is identified, say the partners. Sea-Tac has a goal to power every flight departing the airport with biofuel.
“Unlike the biofuel itself, fuel blending and delivery infrastructure cannot grow on trees,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. “We needed this comprehensive analysis to confirm that we can offer commercial airlines feasible and sustainable delivery options while reducing our environmental footprint and being a good neighbour to surrounding communities.”
In pursuing an integrated supply chain, sites were selected based on the capacity to accommodate delivery of unblended biofuel by pipe, rail, barge and/or truck, and were evaluated based on land use, zoning and environmental considerations. The most feasible sites were then determined based on the construction costs of the required infrastructure, environmental constraints, permitting and planning, and other contingencies to help determine an overall score and final recommendation.
The study found that a small biofuel receiving and blending facility at the Sea-Tac Airport Fuel Farm would be the most cost-effective solution in the short term. Over the long term – due to their access to marine, rail, truck and the Olympic Pipeline – refineries in the Anacortes area would prove the most cost-effective options for large volumes of aviation biofuel. Also over the long term, the Philips 66/Olympic Pipeline Company sites in Renton showed potential to accommodate receipt and blending facilities for moderate-to-large volumes.
Once the long-term biofuel source has been identified, further work will be required to determine the relative proximity of a production plant to the sites considered in the study. The closer the source of the biofuel to a blending and integration facility, the lower the costs associated with the fuel, explains the Port.
“Commercial aviation is committed to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint, and biofuels are key to achieving that goal,” said Ellie Wood, Boeing’s Regional Director of Environmental Strategy. “We’re encouraged that this study shows the viability of making a biofuel blend available to every flight at Sea-Tac Airport. As part of our global strategy to develop and commercialise biofuel, we’re proud to support our hometown partners and keep the Pacific Northwest in the forefront of these innovative efforts.”
Added Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ SVP Communications and External Relations: “This study represents a critical milestone toward powering our planes with a sustainable aviation biofuel made right here at home. After recently flying the first commercial flight with new biofuel made from forest residuals from the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines is eager to see how biofuel flights can become a daily reality at our hometown hub at Sea-Tac.”