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Alaska Air Just Took Eco-Travel to a Whole Nother Level Using Jet Fuel from Trees

Alaska Air Just Took Eco-Travel to a Whole Nother Level Using Jet Fuel from Trees

Eco-friendly travel – according to the International Ecotourism Society – is best defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-beings and involves interpretation and education.” But Alaska Air just took this term to a whole nother level and made history by becoming the first commercial flight to use renewable fuel made from forest residuals. Alaska Air explains that the fuel is composed of the limbs and branches left over after the harvesting of managed forests.

The flight that took off this past week from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington, D.C., was powered by a 20 percent blend of the new biofuel produced by the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance. NARA partner Gevo adapted its technology to convert cellulosic sugars from wood waste into renewable isobutanol. The isobutanol was then converted into Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel.

“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,” Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of communications and external relations, said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time this eco-travel airline has used biofuel to power its jets. In June, it flew two planes using a blend produced from the non-edible portion of corn. While the 1,080 gallons of biofuel used on the flight has a minimal impact to Alaska Airlines’ overall greenhouse gas emissions, 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.

“I am proud to see the world’s first biojet fuel made from forest residuals being flown on an Alaska Airlines airplane,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. “The Pacific Northwest continues to be on the cutting edge of new technology that will make airplanes better, safer, and more efficient, and I’m thrilled that so many stakeholders came together and that Washington State University has led this important effort.”

This project highlights phenomenal progress towards a more sustainable future for generations to come. Let’s hope that Alaska Air’s efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and promote eco-travel will rub off on other major commercial airlines and the rest of the travel industry.

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