Paine Field to become research hub in search for sustainable jet fuel

Apr 27, 2023, 11:48 AM | Updated: 12:48 pm

Paine Field...

a plan has been unveiled to develop a new, more sustainable, and greener form of jet fuel at Paine Field Airport in partnership with Washington State University. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

A plan has been unveiled to develop a new, more sustainable, and greener form of jet fuel at Paine Field Airport in partnership with Washington State University.

The project is working on creating the world’s first Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) repository with the goal of reducing the carbon emissions produced by airline travel.

Snohomish County’s Paine Field master plan available for review

According to the Department of Energy, SAF is made from renewable biomass, and waste resources have the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint.

“SAF is in critical demand around the world. This industry-led Center will accelerate aviation’s global fight against climate change and strengthen Washington’s reputation as a leader in aerospace innovation,” said Emily Wittman, President of the Aerospace Futures Alliance.

Paine Field was chosen as the location for the research and development of the SAF project due to its proximity to the production of medium- and long-haul aircraft at nearby Boeing facilities. The airport is also a “major hub of aviation and aerospace in the region,” with over 158,000 jobs in the area, generating $60 billion annually in the economy.

But with this growing industry based around airlines, aviation is estimated to have accounted for 5% of Snohomish County’s total communitywide greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, which represents a 23% increase from 2015 levels.

Washington State Senate Transportation Committee Chair Marko Liias worked to secure $6.5 million in start-up funding for the project from the state Legislature.

“Investment in this new Research and Development Center marks an exciting milestone for our region. We have been at the forefront of the aviation industry for decades, and this will now put us in a place to lead the world in shaping the future of clean aviation,” said Sen. Marko Liias. “This Center will play a vital role in reducing the environmental impact of air travel while also fostering innovation and economic growth right here in Snohomish County.”

The center will also be the only facility to collect, sample, and distribute sustainable fuels at a scale needed for large aircraft and widespread use.

The county and its partners plan to share their research with aviation centers worldwide.

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Paine Field to become research hub in search for sustainable jet fuel