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Airlines Look to Alternative Fuels

December 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

In an effort to reduce the use of petroleum-based jet fuel, a group of airlines that service the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has signed deals with Seattle start-up AltAir Fuels and synthetic fuel maker Rentech to purchase up to 750 million gallons of renewable jet fuel and biodiesel. plane

The deal should reduce emissions by about 14 billion pounds over the next 10 years.

The biodiesel fuel, derived from camelina, a flowering weed in the mustard family, will be produced by AltAir Fuels in a facility in Anacortes, Wash., expected to begin operations in 2012. No-till farming can be used to produce camelina, and it needs little water or fertilizer, making it more environmentally friendly than other biofuel crops. The camelina oil will come from Montana-based Sustainable Oils.

Participating airlines include American Airlines, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Blue Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Polar Air Cargo, United Airlines, UPS Airlines, and US Airways.

Meanwhile,13 airlines made a deal with Rentech Inc. to provide them with synthetic jet fuel, which is made from waste and biomass and emits less greenhouse gases than traditional jet fuel, from a proposed facility in Mississippi. The FAA has certified up to a  50/50 blend of synthetic fuels acceptable for commercial flights.

The International Air Transport Association suggests it 230 member carriers use 10% alternative fuels by 2017.

– Suzanne Bopp

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