A US airline has become the first to make a commercial flight using renewable energy.
INDEPENDENT — An Alaska Airlines flight departed from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state on Monday, flying to Reagan National Airport in Washington DC partially using alternative fuel made from the bark of trees recycled from the harvesting of managed forests.
The biofuel, which made up 20 percent of the fuel used during the approximately five hour flight, was developed by the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (Nara). The five-year project was launched in 2011 by 32 universities, companies and government agencies to find a way to produce more environmentally friendly jetfuel using a $39.6m grant from the US Department of Agriculture
Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of communications and external relations, said: “This latest milestone in Alaska’s efforts to promote sustainable biofuels is especially exciting since it is uniquely sourced from the forest residuals in the Pacific Northwest
“Nara’s accomplishments and the investment of the US Department of Agriculture provide another key in helping Alaska Airlines and the aviation industry reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels.”
Washington State University, which leads the Nara project, said although the 1,080 gallons of biofuel used during the flight would have minimal impact on Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions, the success of the project bodes well for the future. If the airline were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2. “This is equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.
Washington Senator Maria Cantwell praised the project saying “Today’s flight comes after years of investments to help the aviation biofuels industry take off. “By creating these sustainable biofuels, we will revitalize our rural agricultural communities, foster economic growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut our dependence on foreign oil while growing our competitiveness in global markets.”
The success of the renewables initiative comes as the fight against climate change comes under threat in the US.
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