Powering Flight, from Wood to Wing
On Nov. 14, 2016, Alaska Airlines flew the first commercial flight from Seattle, Washington, to Washington, District of Columbia, powered, in part, by a new renewable fuel made of wood waste. This flight was the culmination of a five-year, $39.6 million AFRI research and education project, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), led by Washington State University. Launched in 2011, NARA advanced research into biofuels and biochemicals, fostered the Northwest regional biofuel industry, and helped educate tomorrow’s workforce on renewable energy. The harvested residues used to make fuel for this flight came from forests owned by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe in Washington and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes in Montana. The resulting biofuel, created by industrial partner Gevo, is chemically indistinguishable from jet fuel derived from fossil fuel. NARA is one of seven NIFA-funded regional bioenergy Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grants that are attempting to help industries break our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint.
NIFA originally published this impact in the NIFA 2016 Annual Report. Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.