MIAMI — Alaska Airlines made aviation history yesterday, when two flights departed Seattle partially fueled by the first biofuel made from sustainable U.S. corn.
The fuel blend used in the flights contained isobutanol, which is fermented from corn and converted into jet fuel at Gevo’s plant in Luverne, Minnesota. The airline is currently using a a mix of 20 percent isobutanol-based fuel and 80 percent conventional jet fuel, said Pat Gruber, CEO of Gevo.
“We believe our technology has the potential to be the lowest cost, renewable carbon-based jet fuel, given the efficacy of our technology. We look forward to moving forward with Alaska, and others in the airline industry, to make renewable jet fuel widely successful as a product that substitutes for fossil fuels, and ultimately helps to reduce carbon emissions.” Gruber said.
The airline is making moves to become a leader in reducing its carbon footprint, and at the same time encourage development of more aviation biofuels. “Alaska is committed to doing its part to reduce its carbon emissions. Advancing the use of alternative jet fuels is a key part of our emission reduction strategy,” said Joseph Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of communications and external relations.
Costs, equivalent to up to six times the price of regular fuel, are expected to drop as production increases.
Additionally, Alaska is teaming up with the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) to carry out another demonstration this fall, using biofuels from forest residuals, thus becoming a leader in the reduction of carbon footprint, besides encouraging the development of more aviation biofuels.
“We look forward to moving forward with Alaska, and others in the airline industry, to make renewable jet fuel widely successful as a product that substitutes for fossil fuels, and ultimately helps to reduce carbon.” Gruber said.