Alaska Airlines flew two flights out of Seattle on Tuesday using a blend of traditional jet fuel with 20 percent biofuel derived from fermented corn. The carrier is trying out different biofuels as it pushes to establish sustainable fuel sources.
Alaska Airlines Flight 388 from Seattle to San Francisco departed at 1 p.m. Tuesday with its engines using a mixture of traditional jet fuel and a 20 percent blend of biofuel made from fermented corn.
In a push to establish sustainable fuel sources, the airline has been flying demonstration flights with a variety of biofuels engineered to be equivalent to regular jet fuel produced from petroleum.
In November 2011, it flew 75 commercial passenger flights between Seattle and Washington, D.C., and Seattle and Portland using a biofuel derived from used cooking oil.
The biofuel on Tuesday’s flights was developed by Gevo, a company based in Englewood, Colo.
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Gevo produces isobutanol — a form of alcohol — at its fermentation plant in Luverne, Minn., in a manner similar to the longstanding production of ethanol. It converts the alcohol into renewable jet fuel at a biorefinery in Silsbee, Texas.
At 1:45 p.m., Alaska Flight 2 from Seattle to Washington, D.C., took off powered by the same fuel mix.
Alaska has set a goal to use sustainable aviation biofuel on all flights at one or more of its primary airports by 2020.
The challenge is to produce the biofuel on a large scale and at a price similar to regular jet fuel.
Joseph Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of communications, said in a statement that the Gevo jet fuel “has the potential to be scalable and cost effective, without sacrificing performance.”