WSU Tri-Cities is Lead Institution in National Aviation Biofuels - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

WSU Tri-Cities is Lead Institution in National Aviation Biofuels Project

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RICHLAND, Wash. - What do plans, wood and the local college campus have in common? A lot, actually. The Federal Aviation Administration and WSU Tri-Cities made quite the announcement in Richland Friday morning at the new Center for Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment.

The Tri-Cities has long been a mecca for the best and brightest minds in science. That all started with Hanford and now, at the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, some groundbreaking research will soon take flight.

"The legacy of the Tri-Cities continues and we thank you for that," said Senator Maria Cantwell.

The Richland building will become the national headquarters for an aviation biofuels research project. It's a public-private partnership involving 16 universities and dozens of companies, labs and organizations across the country.

"The Tri-Cities is, with this grant, going to usher in a new era of aviation transportation. One that is more sustainable, economically, environmentally and efficiently," Cantwell said.

"Transportation is critical to commerce within this country and everyone accepts that we must move forward with long term sustainability. Biofuels for aviation does that," said David Suomi of the FAA.

In the last decade, jet fuel prices have increased exponentially. Scientists say these new alternative jet fuels are cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

"The goal is to have the aviation sector succeed into the future to endure in an environmentally and energy sustainable fashion," said Dr. Ralph Cavalieri of WSU.

"Producing 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2020 could create upward of 100,000 direct jobs and nearly a half a million of indirect jobs in various agricultural and forestry communities," Cantwell said.

The FAA has promised $40-million over the next ten years. WSU Tri-Cities is the lead institution and will partner with MIT and PNNL. Senator Cantwell called it an 'all star team' with everyone from General Electric to Boeing working together on this.