Precision Agriculture

Is Tobacco Going to Be the New Jet Fuel?

Developing jet fuel from tobacco by SkyNRG, South African Airways, and Boeing

SkyNRG, the Dutch aviation biofuels company, is teaming up with South African Airways and Boeing Co. to develop a jet fuel made from a new type of tobacco plant.


The companies announced this month that they aim to develop this type of aviation biofuel to reduce the rate of pollution and at the same time, to boost the rural economy in South Africa.


Biofuels extracted from organic sources, such as algae and plant could decrease carbon emissions by as much as 80% compared with the conventional petroleum-based fuels, the companies said.


It is expected that farmers in South Africa begin growing Solaris, SkyNRG’s tobacco plant, called, as a biofuel feedstock to replace the conventional plant used by the tobacco industry. The Solaris plant is practically free of nicotine, an addictive substance found in tobacco plants.


Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group environmental affairs specialist said “By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking”.


Testing the feasibility of producing this type of tobacco is underway. The companies said that biofuel production using oil from the plant’s seeds could start in the next few years. Boeing also hopes to use the rest of the plant for creating sustainable aviation biofuels in the near future.


Via LA Times, published on August 6, 2014. Click here for the original article.

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