Study confirms aviation biofuel’s benefits

During flight tests led by NASA, a DC-8 research jet’s four engines burned either JP-8 jet fuel or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil. (NASA / SSAI Photo / Edward Winstead)

A NASA-led study demonstrates that airplanes powered by biofuels can emit up to 70 percent less particulate pollution – providing a potential boost for technologies that are being pioneered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The study, published today by the journal Nature, was conducted in the skies over NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. But the findings could be applied at Sea-Tac, where the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines and Boeing are partnering to work toward having biofuel available for every flight.

NASA’s flight tests in 2013 and 2014 were part of a series of experiments known as the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study, or ACCESS.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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