Snohomish County, WSU eyeing Sustainable Aviation Fuels research center in Everett

Snohomish County executives standing with WSU officials
Washington State University and Snohomish County are teaming up to establish a world-leading research center dedicated to improving sustainable aviation fuels.

Washington State University and Snohomish County are teaming up to establish a world-leading research center dedicated to improving sustainable aviation fuels.

Snohomish County leaders announced their proposal to set up a research and development site focused on sustainable aviation fuels at Paine Field Airport at a press conference Tuesday morning. The center would allow for sustainable fuel samples to be more thoroughly tested by researchers and give them opportunities to find more efficient production methods that are less impactful on human health and the environment.

“With our history and resources, Snohomish County is the ideal place for businesses to invest in trailblazing climate change solutions,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said. “This R&D Center for Sustainable Aviation Fuels is a foundational component of our long-term commitment to generate new jobs in environmentally sustainable sectors and help decarbonize aviation.”

The center is a partnership between Snohomish County and WSU, leveraging the latter’s campuses in Everett, Tri-Cities, and Pullman. WSU has researchers from eight programs in three university colleges across its six-campus system working on SAF-related research. Together, with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WSU co-leads the WSU-PNNL Bioproducts Institute. WSU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also co-lead ASCENT, a national consortium of research universities, government agencies, national labs, and private entities convened by the Federal Aviation Administration. Snohomish County is confident that WSU’s partnership will allow the R&D Center to be launched successfully and efficiently.

Project leaders are seeking additional state funding to make the center a reality. Washington State Senator Marko Liias has proposed $6.5 million in start-up funding for the project in the proposed Senate Transportation Budget, with State Rep. Brandy Donaghy taking up the effort in the State House of Representatives.

“Washington state’s leadership in aviation and the environment was one of the reasons I moved across the country to join WSU. Here, the state is supporting efforts to meet global challenges while complementing existing strengths,” Joshua Heyne, director of WSU Tri‑Cities’ Bioproducts Science and Engineering Laboratory, said. “WSU research has enabled the inception of global policies and new technologies to benefit state agricultural and industrial activities from Pullman to Everett. We are proud to partner with Snohomish County, our state Legislature, and industry partners to once again meet a global need with local interests.”

The full press release on the center is available on the Snohomish County website.

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