A 40,000-foot view of biojet...literally

Regular columnist Michael McAdams writes his column this month from high in the sky as he travels from Seattle to D.C. on a cross-country commercial biojet flight.
By Ron Kotrba | November 17, 2011

Biorefining Magazine readers know that in every issue regular columnist Michael McAdams, the straight-shooting president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, will give a compelling insider’s update from Washington, D.C., on the state of the nation’s policies regarding support for advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals. In his December column, McAdams doesn’t write his article from inside the beltway, but rather from 40,000-feet in the air as a passenger on the first U.S. cross-country commercial flight, the Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C.

McAdams writes:

"So as I’m talking to other passengers aboard this historic flight, I’m hearing questions like those from Suzi Arndt, a farmer from Edwall, Wash., and Irene Padilla, a librarian for the state of Maryland, who both asked me how much the fuel cost versus regular fuel, and how much is available. I acknowledged the fuel may be more expensive today because it’s the first of its kind. In order to bring down the cost of the new fuels, we need to build a strong demand for advanced renewable fuels that require the scale-up of significant gallons. That is the way markets work. In fact, I told them that is actually how the U.S. government helped build the airline industry of today. Following the invention of the airplane by the Wright brothers, England began to perfect the manufacture of airplanes for the purpose of national defense. America followed that lead by building airplanes for defense purposes, and the U.S. Postal Service entered the market for aircraft to fly postage back and forth across the country. This created a viable demand for the planes and led to the financing of scalable, affordable aircraft I concluded that the same needs to happen with advanced renewable fuels. Both my fellow passengers smiled and said that seemed to make sense. And that, my friends, is the message we need to remind all Americans, specifically those politicians who now believe the government should leave everything to the free market."

I think biojet fuel—with its multinational and virtually unilateral support, specification developments, military and commercial interests, and market surety—is developing at a rate we can all be proud of and satisfied with.

Check out the December issue for the rest of Mike’s column. And thank you, Mike, once again for your valued perspective.