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Port of Seattle partners with Alaska Airlines and Boeing to supply sustainable aviation biofuel

The Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines, and Boeing are partnering to move toward powering all flights by all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) with sustainable aviation biofuel.

Sea-Tac is the first US airport to lay out a long-term roadmap to incorporate aviation biofuel into its infrastructure in a cost-effective, efficient manner.

The three parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to launch a $250,000 (€230,600) biofuel infrastructure feasibility study that will assess costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver a blend of aviation biofuel and conventional jet fuel.

Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton says the project will send a signal to airlines and biofuel producers that Sea-Tac Airport will be 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,’ Creighton says.

The partners' longer-term plan is to incorporate significant quantities of biofuel into Sea-Tac's fuel infrastructure, which is used by all 26 airlines and more than 380,000 flights annually at the airport.

Joe Sprague, senior VP of communications and external relations for Alaska Airlines, says the airline wants to incorporate biofuel into flight operations at one or more of its hubs by 2020, with Sea-Tac as a first choice for the Seattle-based airline.

‘Biofuel offers the greatest way to further reduce our emissions. This study is a critical step in advancing our environmental goals and stimulating aviation biofuel production in the Pacific Northwest,’ says Sprague.

The Port of Seattle will manage the study as the biofuel roadmapping process and, as Sea-Tac’s  governing authority, would handle the engineering and integration of biofuel infrastructure on Port property such as the airport's fuel farm.

An RFP for the infrastructure study will be issued in the spring of 2016, and the study is expected to be completed by late 2016.

Currently, aviation biofuels are not produced in Washington state and must be imported by truck, rail, or barge. 

Boeing, which partners globally to develop and commercialize sustainable aviation biofuel, is providing expertise about approaches to develop a regional biofuel supply chain to serve the airport, including fuel types, fuel producers, processing technologies, and integration with airplanes.

Using sustainably produced biofuel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by 50-80% compared to conventional petroleum fuel, according to the US Department of Energy.

The Port's Century Agenda Goal is to reduce aircraft-related carbon emissions at Sea-Tac Airport by 25% by 2037.