Pittsburgh's airport is looking into producing sustainable aviation fuel

ISTANBUL — Pittsburgh International Airport is developing plans to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on its 8,800-acre property. 

“We have natural gas onsite. We have empty tanks that US Airways left. We also have a pipeline to the river. So, we can take anything that we don’t use and ship it up to the Northeast,” airport CEO Christina Cassotis said during an interview at IATA Annual General Meeting here on Sunday. 

The airport has put out formal requests for information, with proposals due in mid-July. An announcement on its first SAF-development partner could potentially come even sooner than that, Cassotis said. 

To date, just two U.S. airports, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have SAF delivery systems. No airport produces SAF.  

At present, sustainable aviation fuel is produced almost entirely from vegetable oils, used cooking oils and fats.

  • Related: SAF output tripled in 2022, but it’s still small

Cassotis said Pittsburgh’s airport is interested in that SAF pathway but also other approaches, including refining alcohol into SAF as well as technologies that utilize hydrogen or natural gas. 

“We have been talking to a couple companies that have some very interesting and advanced thoughts about how we can get started soon,” she said. “We’re not looking for just one. We’re looking for how can we be part of using our facilities and our land and our resources to actually push the industry further down the path to a cleaner, greener economy, and it’s not going to be just one answer.”

As to how soon Pittsburgh airport’s vision of producing its own sustainable fuel could come to fruition, Cassotis isn’t ready to guess. 

“No idea,” she said.

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