South Africa: Energy Rich Tobacco to Offer Airlines Sustainable Fuel

Airlines and Aviation

Farmers in South Africa harvest their first crop of energy rich tobacco plants as part of a pilot project to develop environmentally friendly biofuel for the aviation industry.

South African Airways and US planemaker Boeing have announced that farmers in South Africa are harvesting their first crop of energy rich tobacco plants, an important first step in developing sustainable biofuel for the airline industry.

Biofuel made from tobacco could reduce lifecycle carbon emission by from 50% to 75%. It could also create thousands of new jobs in rural parts of South Africa.

And in case you are wondering, no, the tobacco will not contain nicotein! Could this prove an imporant alternative to cigarettes for the tobacco industry? Only time will tell.

Bio Jet Fuel

More than 120 acres, or 50 hectares, of farmland are currently under cultivation in South Africa’s Limpopo province.

Oil from the plants’ seeds will be converted into bio-jel fuel as early as next year. If all goes according to plan, South African Airways could conduct a test flight using bio-jet fuel before year’s end.

“SAA continues to work towards becoming the most environmentally sustainable airline in the world and is committed to a better way of conducting business,” says Ian Cruickshank, Environmental Affairs Specialist, SAA Group.

“The impact that the biofuel program will have on South Africans is astounding: thousands of jobs mostly in rural areas, new skills and technology, energy security and stability, and macro-economic benefits to South Africa, and of course, a massive reduction in the amount of CO2 that is emitted into our atmosphere.”


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