This month U.S. consumers landed some exciting news as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unveiled plans to create a national center for excellence on jet biofuel research. The recently announced effort will help to revolutionize the air transportation industry by tackling one of its largest challenges – rising fuel costs.
The center will be based at Washington State University and will bring together researchers from 16 academic institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Pennsylvania State University and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, among others. The research team will also benefit from the expertise of 26 federal government and airline industry partners including companies like Boeing, Delta Airlines and General Electric to name just a few.
By aiming to significantly advance the use of cost-competitive “drop in” aviation biofuel, the effort will support the FAA’s target of deploying one billion gallons of alternative jet fuel by 2018.
Perhaps, the most promising element of the center’s work is that it will approach its research from a regional perspective; taking into account biological materials, and the needs of different hubs, in varying regions across the country. This strategic approach is important given that the top 40 U.S. airports use approximately 90 percent of America’s jet fuel. More