Alaska Airlines, SkyNRG sign partnership to advance SAF from waste
Alaska Airlines and SkyNRG Americas announced April 14 the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to increased investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The MOU builds on a long history of Alaska leadership advancing SAF and partners the airline with the global SAF pioneers at SkyNRG Americas.
“This is a critical next step in our long-term plan to reduce carbon emissions and our impact on the planet,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of public affairs and sustainability. “We have been working for more than a decade to advance SAF technology and viability, and we’re excited to partner with SkyNRG’s experienced team to advance truly sustainable production of SAF, develop supply in the Pacific Northwest, and engage partners for a commercially viable and scalable future for sustainable fuels.”
John Plaza, CEO of SkyNRG Americas, said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with Alaska Airlines for the production of sustainable fuels. Alaska Airlines is already one of the most fuel-efficient airlines in the U.S., and an ideal partner not only to support SAF demand but also to help drive necessary policy changes that will encourage development of the SAF industry across the Pacific Northwest and the nation as a whole.”
Under the MOU, SkyNRG Americas will initially focus on the development of dedicated SAF production facilities to supply Western U.S. airports. These facilities will use commercially available technologies that enable the use of municipal solid waste and other waste-based inputs as feedstocks, as well as incorporating green hydrogen and renewable energy for minimizing carbon intensity. Beyond the focus of building out SAF production capacity, SkyNRG Americas and Alaska Airlines will continue to build awareness and understanding of SAF technologies, and advocate for public policies to accelerate the development of the SAF industry and infrastructure.
This collaboration builds on the Alaska-Microsoft partnership announced in October 2020, aiming to use SAF to offset Microsoft employee travel between Seattle and San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles.
Aviation is one of the most challenging industries to decarbonize in the transportation sector. While there are exciting opportunities for innovation in electric and hybrid hydrogen-electric aircraft, especially for smaller and regional aircraft, medium and long-haul air travel will continue to require high-quality, low-carbon liquid fuel supplies for many decades to come.
SAF is a low-carbon replacement for fossil-based jet fuel that is certified to meet ASTM standards for jet fuel safety. It is approved for use globally as a drop-in fuel with maximum blending levels of 50 percent with Jet A fuel. Alaska Airlines has been an early adopter of SAF beginning in 2010 with test flights and continuing use of regular SAF offtake at San Francisco International Airport today.
SAF can be produced using various renewable resources, but this collaboration is focused on SAF made from municipal solid waste (MSW) and other waste-based feedstock sources. With this strategy, SkyNRG’s SAF will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent, burn cleaner in jet engines, and reduce particulate matter by 90 percent. There are significant volumes of MSW available throughout the U.S that end up buried in landfills for decades. SkyNRG considers MSW and the associated waste streams that result from landfilling garbage as attractive feedstocks for the production of low-carbon SAF. Of critical importance for Alaska and SkyNRG will be the continued work to maximize recycling and reduce waste streams before any conversion of MSW to SAF occurs.
SkyNRG Americas has a strong commitment to best practices in sustainability, including requiring all its production facilities to follow comprehensive and rigorous sustainability standards, such as the Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials. SkyNRG Americas will be consistently advised by experts from its independent sustainability board and will have its operations and projects certified by RSB.