The first commercial jet flight powered with biofuel made in Minnesota took place on Tuesday.
Gevo Inc. announced that Alaska Airlines scheduled two flights Tuesday using a fuel blend utilizing isobutanol produced at Gevo’s plant in Luverne, Minn.
The isobutanol, fermented from corn, is converted into a jet fuel at Gevo’s biofuel refinery in southeast Texas. Alaska Airlines is using a mix of 20 percent isobutanol-based fuel and 80 percent conventional jet fuel, said Pat Gruber, CEO of Denver-based Gevo.
Gruber was scheduled to be on the first flight, which went from Seattle to San Francisco. “It’s the first time anyone has flown (commercially) on corn carbohydrates,” he told the Star Tribune. A second flight from Seattle to Washington D.C. was also scheduled.
The U.S. military has used Gevo’s isobutanol-based fuel in Black Hawk helicopters. Gevo has sold its corn-based jet fuel to other airlines, but the Alaska Airlines flight marked its first use on a commercial flight, Gruber said.
Currently, Gevo’s plant in Luverne produces primarily ethanol, but the company is betting big on isobutanol. “It has the potential to be the lowest-cost jet fuel,” Gruber said.
Gevo’s stock closed Tuesday at 60 cents, up 20 cents or 50 percent.