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Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN)


SAFN’s goal was to map a flight path to develop a safe, sustainable and economically viable aviation biofuels industry in the Northwest.

Feasibility Study

Value-chain step
Full value-chain

Type of pathway

Starting time and duration
July 2010 - May 2011

All types

Regional scope

Involved countries


The initiative was launched in July 2010 by Boeing, Alaska Airlines, the operators of the region’s three largest airports – Port of Seattle, Port of Portland and Spokane International Airport – and Washington State University, a center for advanced biofuels research. Climate Solutions, a Northwest clean-energy nonprofit, was retained to manage a stakeholder process that included more than 40 organisations ranging across aviation, biofuels production, environmental advocacy, agriculture, forestry, federal and state government agencies, academic research and technical consultancies.
The SAFN initiative:
  • Analyzed the most promising, local biomass sources for commercialization;
  • Assessed all phases required to develop a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and use; and
  • Prioritized state and federal policy recommendations needed to spur creation of sustainable fuels for aviation.

Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Port of Portland, Port of Seattle, Spokane International Airport, Washington State University
+ 40 stakeholders


Achievements to date

SAFN published its report and recommendation in May 2011.
Among key findings and recommendations, are :
  • An aviation biofuels industry can be commercially viable in the Pacific Northwest;
  • Considering aviation role in the economy, aviation dependency on liquid fuels as well as the structural advantages of aviation with view to alternative fuels deployment, biofuel development for commercial and military aviation must receive priority attention in policy development and commercial efforts;
  • There is no single feedstock or technology to achieve SAFN’s goal and SAFN proposes action plans for four promising feedstock: oilseeds, forest residues, municipal solid waste and algae;
  • Supportive policies are critical to jump-start the industry and attract investment, accelerate industry growth and provide long-term economic benefits - the report offers specific policy recommendations to spur creation of sustainable fuels for the aviation industry;
  • SAFN stakeholders agree on the need to accelerate efforts to find replacements for petroleum fuels but emphasize sustainability as a crucial consideration for policies supporting alternative fuels for aviation.

The work performed within SAFN also contributed to the set of 75 commercial flights performed from Seattle by Alaska Airlines from November 2011, using a 20 percent blend of sustainable biofuel made from used cooking oil (a purchased through SkyNRG from Dynamic Fuels).

In addition, the SAFN initiative resulted in the set-up of a follow-on “Aviation Biofuels Work Group” in June 2012 when the Washington State legislature adopted the Aviation Biofuels Production bill (HB 2422). It requires stakeholders in the region to form an Aviation Biofuels Work Group to "further the development of sustainable aviation fuel as a productive industry in Washington, using as a foundation the regional assessment prepared by the collaborative known as the sustainable aviation fuels northwest”.

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