Project Thunderbird to develop biojet projects in Western U.S.

By Luke Geiver | September 27, 2012

Aviation biofuel project development company Biojet has partnered with the Council of Energy Resource Tribes to produce bioenergy on tribal land. The partnership could produce roughly $3 billion in revenue, according to Biojet, using various biorefining technologies with a variety of feedstocks ranging from jatropha to camelina.

Mitch Hawkins, chairman and principal executive officer for the international biobased aviation company, said the development efforts, now called Project Thunderbird by CERT, will involve roughly 12 installations on tribal lands in the western U.S. and the Pacific Northwest. Over the course of the next 10-15 years, Hawkins said his feedstock and technology agnostic company formed four years ago will execute on its plan to create biojet fuel.

The collaborative efforts between Biojet and CERT began two years ago, according to Hawkins. CERT, started in 1975, represents 57 tribes out of the roughly 550 in the U.S. today. Hawkins said that the CERT tribes contain the majority of all natural resources linked to tribal lands, including deposits of coal, oil, natural gas all in addition to 57 million acres. The projects will use purpose grown camelina and in the Pacific Northwest where Hawkins said several tribal land areas have damaged wood, woody biomass will be utilized as well.

Hawkins believes that Biojet’s feedstock, technology and project finance approach to biojet production will help the company execute Project Thunderbird, as well as several other projects throughout the world the company is currently involved in. “The model is very simple,” he says of the company’s approach. “When we talk to big oil, they say, why would you do it any other way?”

Biojet will license technology from providers like Honeywell or Emerging Fuels, he said, and in the case of Project Thunderbird, will use incentive programs and tax credits associated with Indian lands.