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Domestic aviation biofuels industry will need government support says US group

By Colin Ricketts - 26 May 2011 14:44:0 GMT
Domestic aviation biofuels industry will need government support says US group

Government action will be necessary to turn the American Pacific Northwest into a biofuel production centre capable of meeting even the needs of the aviation industry but all the other ingredients are there says a new study.

The agriculture to grow the raw material is in place, a good fuel-delivery infrastructure is in place and politicians in the area are alive to the possibilities says the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN) report.

SAFN is the first group in America to look at such a regional strategy for an area that is home to Boeing. The airline manufacturer along with Alaska Airlines, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University were partners in the study to examine whether a commercial aviation biofuel industry was possible.

''It is critical to the future of aviation that we develop a sustainable supply of aviation biofuels,'' said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh.

''Airlines are particularly vulnerable to oil price volatility, and the aviation community must address this issue to maintain economic growth and further mitigate the environmental impacts of our industry.''

SAFN say that government should make the project a high priority and envisages using raw materials such as oilseeds, forest residues, solid waste and algae to make the biofuel. Without government support in the early stages says SAFN, no aviation biofuel industry will be economically viable.

The aviation industry needs higher quality fuels than vehicles on the ground and finding alternatives is much harder, experts say that for the next 20-30 years new fuels will have to match the performance of those based on petroleum.

SAFN believe that a United States domestic biofuels industry will be a boost to the whole country.

Dr. John Gardner, vice president for Advancement and External Affairs at Washington State University, said: ''The long-term payback will be a stateside industry that greatly enhances our traditional economic strengths; from farming and forestry to engineering and aerospace, creating new opportunities and new jobs for the Northwest.''

Top Image Credit: © Ilja Masik