Gevo: Cellulosic ATJ fuels flight, isobutanol blend sold in Texas

By Erin Voegele | November 14, 2016

On Nov. 14, Gevo Inc. announced Alaska Airlines flew a flight using its cellulosic jet fuel. The company also recently announced that gasoline blended with its isobutanol is now being sold in Houston, Texas.

Gevo announced the flight using its cellulosic renewable alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel on Nov. 14, noting the flight originated in Seattle, Washington, and concluded at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines few two commercial flights using Gevo’s ATJ. Those flights, completed in June, were fueled with ATJ produced using corn-based isobutanol manufactured at Gevo’s biorefinery in Luverne, Minnesota.

In October, Gevo announced it had completed production of cellulosic ATJ using isobutanol produced from wood waste feedstock. The ATJ meets ASTM D7566, allowing it to be used for commercial flights.

According to Gevo, the cellulosic ATJ was produced in conjunction with the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, which supplied the cellulosic sugars derived from forest residuals in the Pacific Northwest. The cellulosic renewable isobutanol used to make the cellulosic ATJ was produced by Gevo in St. Joseph, Missouri, and transported to the company’s biorefinery in Silsbee, Texas, where it was converted to cellulosic ATJ.

“This first of its kind flight demonstrates Gevo’s commitment and ability to convert next generation cellulosic feedstocks into fungible hydrocarbons,” said Pat Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “We are pleased that we had the opportunity to prove, through the NARA project, that cellulosic sugars from wood can be used to successfully make commercial jet fuel.  We congratulate all of our fellow NARA partners and thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, for its unwavering support in the pursuit of renewable jet fuel.  I also thank Alaska Airlines, who continues to be a great partner.”

Earlier in the month, on Nov. 10, Gevo announced that a 12.5 percent blend of its isobutanol is now being sold in the Houston area. Musket Corp., Gevo’s distribution partner in the Houston market, is blending the fuel. Buc-ee’s, 37-store regional chain, is the first company to sell the blend, which is marketed as a high-performance, ethanol-free gasoline.

According to the company, this is the first time its isobutanol has been specifically targeted towards on-road vehicles. Previously, the company and its partners focused on specialty markets, such as marinas and off-road engines.

“Isobutanol-blended fuel is a new paradigm for biofuels because it combines high performance and sustainability,” Gruber said. “We’ve established this in the aviation and boating markets and are now bringing it to on-road transportation.  It’s important for us to be working with established brands like Musket and Buc-ee’s to deliver a new high performance gasoline to end customers, and we look forward to seeing this business grow.”