The Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines and Boeing are partnering to reduce aviation emissions by powering all flights by all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 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.
The partnering organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a $250,000 Biofuel Infrastructure Feasibility Study that will assess costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver a blend of aviation biofuel and conventional jet fuel to aircraft at Sea-Tac, a crucial step toward routine biofuel use in the future.
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 vice president 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,” Sprague says. “This study is a critical step in advancing our environmental goals and stimulating aviation biofuel production in the Pacific Northwest.”
The Port of Seattle will manage the $250,000 study as the biofuel roadmapping process and, as Sea-Tac Airport’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 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.
Approved “drop-in” aviation biofuel is blended directly with regular petroleum-based jet fuel and used in airplanes without any changes to the aircraft or engines. Using sustainably produced biofuel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to conventional petroleum fuel, according to the DOE.
Sea-Tac is the 13th busiest airport in the US and will serve over 42 million domestic and international passengers this year.