Southwest Airlines buys forest biofuel

The biofuel will be source from forest biomass in the western US
The biofuel will be source from forest biomass in the western US

Southwest Airlines has signed an agreement to purchase biofuel made using organic material sourced from forests.

The purchase agreement, with Red Rocks Biofuels LLC, will see Southwest purchase a version of low-carbon renewable jet fuel derived from wood-based biomass in forests in the western US. The airline has committed to buying three million gallons (11.4m litres) of the biofuel per year, with first delivery expected in 2016.

“Our commitment to sustainability and efficient operations led us on a search for a viable biofuel that uses a sustainable feedstock with a high rate of success,” said Bill Tiffany, vice president of supply chain at Southwest Airlines. “Red Rock Biofuel’s technology, economics, and approved use made entering into an agreement for purchase a win-win situation.”

RRB’s first plant will convert approximately 140,000 dry tons of forest biomass into at least 12m gallons per year of renewable jet fuel, diesel and other fuels.  And as well as contributing to reduced carbon emissions, the collection of forest material is also expected to help reduce the risk of wildfires.

“From the outset, we have sought to build the best possible team of project partners.  A conversation we started with Southwest on the premise of providing renewable jet fuel at cost parity with conventional jet fuel has evolved into a great partnership.  We’re happy to help Southwest diversify its fuel supply,” said RRB’s CEO, Terry Kulesa.

Southwest is a member of Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).

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