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WSU will lead jet biofuel research

Sun., Sept. 15, 2013, midnight

New FAA program coming to Tri-Cities

Washington State University has been picked as a co-leader for the nation’s new center of excellence for jet biofuel research, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., announced Friday morning at WSU Tri-Cities.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the other co-leader and much of the WSU research could be done at the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at the university’s Richland campus.

Other partners that would help with work to develop and test jet biofuel include the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, the University of Washington, InnovaTek and Spokane International Airport.

“This landmark investment will help the jet biofuels industry take flight,” Cantwell said in a statement. “From farms to airports, green jet fuel means jobs for Americans.”

Cantwell wrote language to create the new Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence in the FAA reauthorization bill of 2012, and called on the FAA to take steps to create the center as soon as possible during a February 2012 visit to WSU Tri-Cities.

The entire Washington congressional delegation has supported WSU’s proposal for the center. The center will develop aviation biofuel that would meet industry standards and would be cost-competitive with current jet fuel. Some jets currently fly with blends of biomass fuel.

America’s aviation economy supports 10 million jobs and $1 trillion in economic activity. But America’s leadership in aviation is threatened by the increasing cost and volatility of jet fuel, Cantwell’s staff said.

The cost of jet fuel has gone up 267 percent in the last 12 years and that trend is expected to continue, Cantwell said last year at WSU Tri-Cities. Fuel is the top cost to airlines, making up 35 percent of operating costs.

“Developing new alternative jet fuels is crucial for the airline industry, our military and our environment, and the FAA made the right decision to base this important research where it belongs, in Washington state,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement.

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