Alaska Airline Boeing 737-800 (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airline)
 
Gardner

PULLMAN – A major WSU effort to develop aviation biofuel is underway with the announcement of a strategic initiative called the “Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest” project; the first of its kind in the U.S.  In partnership with Alaska Airlines, Boeing, the Port of Seattle, The Port of Portland, and Spokane International Airport, the project will look at biomass options within a four-state region as possible sources for creating renewable jet fuel.

 
“This really is an exciting development from both the economic impact to the Northwest, but also to the advancement of clean fuel technologies world-wide,” said John Gardner, vice president of Economic Development and Global Engagement at WSU.
 
WSU is recognized as one of the leading institutions in the world for its research and discovery work in bio-fuels.
 
Cavalieri

“WSU scientists are already working on overcoming the obstacles standing in the way of efficiently using biomass to make bio-aviation fuel,” said Ralph Cavalieri, director of WSU’s Agricultural Research Center. 

 
A few examples include:
 

Lewis
Professor Norman G. Lewis is working on how best to break down the lignin in woody biomass – such as forest byproducts – to make it more easily convertible to fuel.
 
 
 
 

Chen
Researcher Shulin Chen’s lab is focusing on developing energy-rich algae, the technology to grow them all year, and a way to convert them into fuel and other products.
 

 

 


Hulbert
Plant pathologist Scot Hulbert is working on making oilseeds such as camelina and canola viable agricultural crops.
 
 
 
 
Faculty at the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) at WSU Tri-Cities and Pullman are collaborating with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on improved methods of catalytic conversion to liquid fuels.
 
“Washington State University is uniquely poised to tackle this project,” said Gardner. “It’s critical that understanding and policy keep pace with the science and technology as we shape this next era of biofuels that we are convinced will be sustainable.”
 
Because biomass sources absorb carbon dioxide while growing and can have higher energy content than fossil-based fuel, their increased efficiency and use as aviation biofuel could potentially save millions of tons of aviation greenhouse gas emissions.
 
The project officially kicks off July 27. Research firm Climate Solutions has been hired to prepare an assessment report expected back in early January.
 

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