Delta invests $2 million for study of potential facility to produce biofuel from forest floor debris

Source: Delta.com, September 17, 2019

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, Delta Air Lines is investing $2 million to partner with Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels, LLC for the feasibility study of a biofuel production facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel and other biofuel products.

The sustainable aviation fuel, expected to be produced in a facility in Washington State, could be used in Delta operations at stations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. NWABF’s project would utilize wood residue deposits and wood slash lying on forest floors to produce the biofuel, which would qualify under an approved carbon-reducing pathway recognized by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). NWABF plans first delivery of the fuel by the end of 2023.

“While Delta continues to take actions toward our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, fuel is a key area where we are examining opportunities to create real sustainability differences and drive accountability across the entire business as we lower our environmental impact,” said Alison Lathrop, Delta’s Managing Director — Global Environment, Sustainability and Compliance.

Delta expects the feasibility study to be complete by the middle of 2020. At that time, Delta will evaluate the next steps in moving forward with the project’s development.

“This single project could provide approximately 10 percent of Delta’s annual jet fuel consumption in the West Coast region and, if successful, could become the blueprint for future projects to support Delta’s goal to further reduce its carbon footprint,” said Graeme Burnett, Delta’s Senior Vice President — Fuel Management. “This project has additional environmental benefits because it reduces wood residuals in forests, which can increase potential fire hazards and inhibit future tree growth.”

“We are excited to partner with Delta Air Lines in lowering the airline’s carbon footprint and supporting Delta’s sustainability strategy,” said Dave Smoot, Head of Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels, LLC. “This project combines proven technologies to produce exceptional quality sustainable aviation fuel on a large scale from renewable feedstock resources.”  

“Our research demonstrates that using forest harvest residuals to produce sustainable aviation fuels, not only reduces emissions from the aviation sector but also provides for much needed jobs in the rural and timber-dependent regions of the Pacific Northwest,” said Michael Wolcott, co-director of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) and professor at Washington State University.

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