Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) derived from plants could reduce these emissions by up to 68 percent says a new study. the non-edible oilseed crop Brassica carinata, a variety of mustard plant can be more cost-effective than petroleum fuel.
Based on a report by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute roughly 2.4 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 were generated by the aviation industry. Also emissions constitute a contribution of 3.5 percent to anthropogenic climate change.
Challenges around transitioning to biofuels include their potential to displace important food crops and questions around whether it’s even possible to grow enough fuel crops at all. Where, how, and what crop is grown also has a massive impact on whether it actually ends up reducing emissions.
That said, fuel derived from B. carinata is not a brand new idea. It was developed and tested some years ago. The first jet flight on pure carinata-derived biofuel was successfully flown in 2012, but the cost was much higher than conventional jet fuel. But governments are offering incentives for reducing emissions that were not in place in 2012.
The US currently lacks the infrastructure for turning the crop into fuel. The feasibility of building these facilities is the focus of the team’s current research, with the hope of informing decisions to be made by farmers, investors and policy-makers.
The research has been published in GCB Bioenergy.
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