Boeing has announced the development of a new alternative jet fuel, based on a hybrid tobacco plant. The aircraft manufacturer has partnered with South African Airways to develop the sustainable fuel, which should also enhance the South African economy without encouraging cigarette smoking.
Boeing's managing director for Africa, J. Migues Santos said:
"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. 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 the grower of the hybrid nicotine-free tobacco, known as Solaris. Test farming is already underway in South Africa, and is expected to be widely produced within a few years. Boeing says that at first, oil from the plant's seeds will be converted into jet fuel, but later they plan to use most or all of the plant.
South African Airways Environmental Affairs Specialist Ian Cruickshank said:
"By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking. This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region's economic opportunity."
Boeing has been woking with airline and energy partners worldwide to develop and produce sustainable aviation fuels. Boeing reports that carbon emissions are reduced by 5o to 80 percent in comparison to traditional jet fuel, and that over 1,500 commercial flights have been flown using sustainable fuels since 2011.
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