Alaska Airlines flew a 737 across the country using wood chips

❝ On Monday morning, Washington state-based Alaska Airlines started the week off right. It sent a Boeing 737 jet on the first commercial flight partially fueled by tree limbs and waste wood from forests.

❝ The alternative jet fuel used on the flight from Seattle to Washington D.C. was produced through the efforts of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) and Gevo Inc., a private renewable technology company…

❝ Like corn, trees also produce sugars through the process of photosynthesis. These sugars can be converted into alcohol and then into kerosene or jet fuel. Wood is more expensive to convert, but it can be made into isobutanol, a particular type of alcohol that gives fuel more suited for aircraft engines.

The wood-based blend also brings some additional advantages. It doesn’t compete with food crops or the land used to grow them. Instead, it uses forest clippings that are typically gathered into a pile and burned. And if the conversion process gains more support, it could create new employment in areas that have lost timber industry jobs.

❝ Renewable jet fuel must compete on cost with petroleum-based fuels before airlines consider it for anything but the occasional stunt, but biofuel technology is fast catching up. And several airlines around the globe have committed to keeping the net carbon emissions from aviation neutral starting in 2020. That’s significant because jet fuel remains a huge source of carbon pollution.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Remember that song. Our politicians serenade us with it every few years when elections roll around. Most especially re-election, eh? Still seems to me our intelligentsia and outsiders with higher-than-a-6th-grade social pass are doing a better job at trying to fill the gap between quality jobs and minimum wage…than our bought-and-paid-for Congress.

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