Eastern Washington’s dry land fields could become a significant source of aviation fuel under a new program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) told agriculture officials in Spokane today that Washington farmers can grow up to 12,000 acres of camelina sativa, a low, dry land crop that can be converted into jet fuel, under a new federal program.
That program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program can aid farmers who want to rotate crops of camelina with wheat on their fields.
Seattle’s AltAir and Oregon’s Beaver Biodiesel are planning new plants to produce fuel from the oily, non-food crop. AltAir is planning to build a Western Washington refinery to produce 100 million gallons of jet fuel and biodiesel each year from camelina.
The company signed a contract with 14 airlines in 2009 to provide up to 750 million gallons of aviation fuel over a decade.
Camelina-based fuels have been tested in commercial and military planes alike with no adverse consequences to the engines. Fuel production from the crop could support up to 1,200 full-time jobs in the Northwest and Great Plains, said Cantwell.