Delta Air Lines is putting up $2 million for a feasibility study into a biofuels base to produce sustainable aviation fuel.

The project in Washington state in the US would utilise wood residue deposits and wood lying on forest floors to produce the biofuel.

The sustainable aviation fuel could be used in the airline’s operations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Delta is partnering with Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels on the initiative, with the first deliveries expected by the end of 2023.

The US carrier expects the feasibility study to be completed next summer. Delta will then evaluate the next steps in moving forward with the project’s development.

Fuel management senior vice president Graeme Burnett said: “This single project could provide approximately 10% of Delta’s annual jet fuel consumption in the west coast region and, if successful, could become the blueprint for future projects to support Delta’s goal to further reduce its carbon footprint.

“This project has additional environmental benefits because it reduces wood residuals in forests, which can increase potential fire hazards and inhibit future tree growth.”

Global environment, sustainability and compliance managing director Alison Lathrop said: “While Delta continues to take actions toward our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2050, fuel is a key area where we are examining opportunities to create real sustainability differences and drive accountability across the entire business as we lower our environmental impact.”

Michael Wolcott, co-director of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance and professor at Washington State University, added:”Our research demonstrates that using forest harvest residuals to produce sustainable aviation fuels, not only reduces emissions from the aviation sector but also provides for much needed jobs in the rural and timber-dependent regions of the Pacific Northwest.”