Alaska Airlines' First Forest Powered Flight - Global Trade Magazine
  December 6th, 2016 | Written by

Alaska Airlines’ First Forest Powered Flight

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  • Alaska Airlines flight from SeaTac to Reagan National powered with sustainable aviation biofuel.
  • Advancing alternatives to conventional fossil fuels for aviation.
  • EPIC provided transportation and logistics support for Alaska Airlines biofuel flight.

An Alaska Airlines demonstration flight departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in mid-November for Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. The flight was fueled with a 20-percent blend of sustainable aviation biofuel, which is chemically indistinguishable from regular jet fuel.

EPIC Fuels provided expertise in fuel blending as well as technical and logistical support to Alaska Airlines’ first commercial flight using the world’s first renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. The alternative jet fuel was produced through the efforts of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA).

Gevo, Inc., a NARA partner, successfully adapted its patented technologies to convert cellulosic sugars derived from wood waste into renewable isobutanol, which was then further converted into Gevo’s Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) fuel. Believed to be the world’s first alternative jet fuel produced from wood, the fuel meets international ASTM standards, allowing it to be used safely for the commercial flight flown on November 14, 2016.

EPIC Fuels is a global supplier of fuels and services to FBOs, commercial airlines, airports, ground fueling operators, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, and other government agencies around the world.

Alaska Airlines selected EPIC Fuels as a partner to ensure project success based on EPIC’s extensive experience in renewable fuel operations. EPIC provided transportation, logistics support, on-site quality control at the Gevo facility and Alaska Airlines fuel operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and consulting support in the blending and testing process.

EPIC Fuels has been playing an ever-increasing role in growing acceptance of sustainable biofuels and biofuel blends used in jet aviation. Through this and other similar programs, EPIC has gained experience and insight of how biofuels interact with fossil jet fuels. The company has amassed significant experience in these projects including blending data, logistics, transportation and the rigorous testing required to ensure the fuels meet or exceed industry safety standards.

Over the last several years EPIC has provided both technical and logistic expertise in programs for sustainable fuel alternatives including two flights flown by Alaska Airlines in June 2016 using a blend of biofuel produced from non-edible, sustainable corn. In addition, EPIC provided support for the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757 flight with U.S.-made green diesel biofuel in June, 2015 and Boeing’s first-ever flights using a green diesel blend during the ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test program in December, 2014.

The Alaska Airlines flight, the first commercial flight of its kind, was meant to advance alternatives to conventional fossil fuels for aviation, according to EPIC officials.