At the Seattle-Tacoma Airport on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects “aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil.”
Altogether, the five-year program will deliver more than $136 million in research and development grants to public and private sector partners in 22 states. University partners from the states of Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Iowa will lead the projects, which focus in part on developing aviation biofuels from tall grasses, crop residues and forest resources. Vilsack made the announcement with partners from private industry, research institutions, and the biofuels industry.
Among the five projects are two $40 million grants to Washington State University and the University of Washington to study the feasibility of producing jet biofuel from woody feedstocks in the Pacific Northwest. “This is a significant investment in biofuel production research, and the work at both Washington State University and the University of Washington will help ensure that Washington state remains a national leader in renewable energy research and development,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
Senator Maria Cantwell added, “The investment announced today will leverage the resources of our entire region, helping build up a biofuels supply chain and boost clean energy job growth across the nation.”
The WSU project will focus on converting closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers to develop a regional source of renewable aviation fuel for the Sea-Tac Airport. Weyerhaeuser Company is a participant in the WSU project as part of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance. As a subcontractor to the WSU-led grant, Weyerhaeuser will focus on determining the feasibility of sustainable production of woody feedstocks for use in biofuel and value-added products and exploring ways to convert woody biomass lignin components into value-added bio products.
“This region has a wealth of research capability and knowledge,” said Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director Mark Reis. “We recognize in order for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we cannot do it without aviation biofuels.”