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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Boeing Turning Tobacco Into Aviation Biofuel

Biofuel hit disfavor when corn stock became the dominate source of material.   Since then we've learned to avoid feed that competes with food supplies.  Last month we talked to an expert in NC who helped local farmers grow material that complimented their lands, was not a food supply and allowed them to provide material for local biofuel.

Now, we see the same positive steps coming together in South Africa in conjunction with some excellent work done by Boeing.  EPA, in the US, set some high standards for air quality improvements.  To meet those, we need contributions from car manufacturers, building designers, grid operators and, as we see here, suppliers of transportation fuels.  We applaud everyone of you for your innovation and commitment to protecting our environment.



South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG announced in August that they are collaborating to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant. This initiative broadens cooperation between Boeing and SAA to develop renewable jet fuel in ways that support South Africa's goals for public health as well as economic and rural development.

"It's an honor for Boeing to work with South African Airways on a pioneering project to make sustainable jet fuel from an energy-rich tobacco plant," said J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International."South Africa is leading efforts to commercialize a valuable new source of biofuel that can further reduce aviation's environmental footprint and advance the region's economy."

SkyNRG is expanding production of the hybrid plant known asSolaris as an energy crop that farmers could grow instead of traditional tobacco. Test farming of the plants, which are effectively nicotine-free, is underway in South Africa with biofuel production expected from large and small farms in the next few years. Initially, oil from the plant's seeds will be converted into jet fuel. In coming years, Boeing expects emerging technologies to increase South Africa's aviation biofuel production from the rest of the plant.

"By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking," said Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist. "This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region's economic opportunity."

"We strongly believe in the potential of successfully rolling out Solaris in the Southern African region to power sustainable fuels that are also affordable," said Maarten van Dijk, Chief Technology Officer, SkyNRG.

In October 2013, Boeing and SAA said they would work together to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. As part of that effort, they are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to position farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socioeconomic value to communities without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Boeing is the aviation industry's leader in the development of sustainable aviation biofuel, working with partners in the United States, Europe, China, Middle East, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Australia and other countries. When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel through its lifecycle. Airlines have conducted more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel since the fuel was approved in 2011. 


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