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December 2, 2016

USDA Funding Leads To First Wood-To-Jet Fuel Commercial Flight

Kathleen M Roberts

On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its partners celebrated the successful journey of the first commercial flight powered in part by a new renewable fuel made from wood waste. The demonstration flight, operated by Alaska Airlines, was made possible due to a five-year $39.6 million research project to develop a viable renewable fuel source from cellulose-rich wood harvest leftovers funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and led by Washington State University and the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA). The renewable fuel was created using cellulose derived from leftover branches and limbs from wood harvesting from sustainably managed private forests in Washington, Oregon, and Montana. In total, 1,080 gallons of the 20 percent blend of jet fuel was produced. Alaska Airlines estimated that replacing 20 percent of the fuel supply at the Sea-Tac Airport with the renewable fuel would result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 142,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.