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Southwest Airlines signs purchase agreement with Red Rock Biofuels for renewable jet fuel from forest residues; ~3M gallons per year

Southwest Airlines has signed an agreement with Red Rock Biofuels LLC (RRB) to purchase low carbon renewable jet fuel, made using forest residues that will help reduce the risk of destructive wildfires in the Western United States. The airline’s agreement with RRB covers the purchase of approximately three million gallons per year. The blended product will be used at Southwest’s Bay Area operations with first delivery expected in 2016.

RRB’s first plant will convert approximately 140,000 dry tons of woody biomass feedstock into at least 12 million gallons per year of renewable jet, diesel, and naphtha fuels. The company recently received a $70-million grant under phase 2 of the US Defense Production Act Title III Advanced Drop-in Biofuels project for construction of the facility, which will also produce mil-spec fuels. (Earlier post.)

In July 2013, Red Rock Biofuels was awarded $4.1 million under phase 1 of the same program to conduct detailed engineering for the BTL facility, which is now complete.

The Red Rock process begins with the gasification of woody biomass to produce synthesis gas, which is then is cleaned and sent to a Fischer-Tropsch unit where it is converted to liquid hydrocarbons. Hydroprocessing refines the liquid hydrocarbons to produce jet, diesel, and naphtha fuels.

Red Rock’s gas-to-liquids technology partner is Velocys.

Our commitment to sustainability and efficient operations led us on a search for a viable biofuel that uses a sustainable feedstock with a high rate of success. Red Rock Biofuel’s technology, economics, and approved use made entering into an agreement for purchase a win-win situation.

—Bill Tiffany, Vice President of Supply Chain at Southwest Airlines

Southwest is a long-time member of Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) which is a government and industry coalition for the development and deployment of alternative jet fuel for commercial aviation. As a member of CAAFI, the airline has followed the progress of alternative fuel technologies. Red Rock Biofuels is the first viable opportunity the airline has found to meet its financial and sustainability objectives.

Comments

SJC

good

Bob Wallace

They're welcome to come clean the surplus fuel from my land. I've been doing an acre or so a year. I won't live long enough to finish.

Forests around here are badly in need of thinning.

SJC

In some areas half the trees are dead from bark beetle infestation caused by drought. This goes back to the seven year drought in the 1980s.

Many of the fires leave burned trees that can be extracted and replanted. If you can show a profit, managed capitalism can do the job. We can get non fossil fuels in the bargain as well.

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