Pacific Northwest can be aviation biofuel leader

slash pile

Some of the logging 'slash' and other wood residues left after timber harvests could be converted into fuel for aviation. Photo: DNR.

A guest editorial last week in the Everett Herald concluded that the Pacific Northwest has all the necessary assets to “revolutionize an industry, invigorate local jobs and serve as a national roadmap for future U.S. biofuels development.” The assets cited in the editorial (“Homegrown biofuels are critical to the future of flight“) include our region’s significant biomass resources, infrastructure, research institutions, and strong technology companies.

The 10-month regional study was commissioned by Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest and examined all phases of aviation biofuel development, including biomass production and harvest, refining, and transport infrastructure. The study recommends the use of oilseeds, forest residues, solid waste, algae and other feedstocks and technologies to make aviation fuel.

At a biomass conference in January, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark also described aviation biofuel as an important product. Goldmark said using biofuels for aviation was a key component of DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative because jet fuel is one of the highest and best uses for residual forest biomass from state trust lands.

The Northwest is not alone in seeking to develop a biofuel-based aviation fuel industry. Boeing, a leading member of  Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest, also is involved in an aviation biofuel consortium in Australia and New Zealand where a new report estimates 12,000 new jobs could be created there. The company also recently announced an aviation biofuel initiative with Chinese energy officials.

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