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WSU Tri-Cities to Head Federal Jet Bio-fuel Research Center

Washington State University will lead a new federal research center focused on finding new biofuels for jet airplanes.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., made the announcement Friday at the university’s new science labs in the Tri-Cities.

Cantwell says WSU will work closely with the FAA, MIT near Boston and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The project, centered in Richland, will spend more than $40 million over 10 years and aim to find sustainable aviation fuels at commercial scale.

The increasing cost and volatility of jet fuel could be a drag on America’s airline industry, Cantwell says. The Northwest is uniquely positioned to become the hub of this research on how to turn crops and forest products into biofuel.

“We know a lot about feedstocks in general, and we have major institutions in our state that research feedstock. We also have a lot of feedstock and we have an aviation industry,” Cantwell said.

Work on the center will begin once the research projects have been identified in a few months. 

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.