Efficient and sustainable fuel for aircraft from oil plants

Efficient and sustainable fuel for aircraft from oil plants

According to a new study published in the journal GCB Bioenergy, emissions from the aviation sector can be reduced by 68%, by switching to sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) derived from plants, especially Inedible oilseed crops.

These crops represent a variety of the mustard plant called rapeseed or Brassica carinata, and the study showed that this fuel could be more cost-effective than petroleum fuels.

Carbon footprint
According to a press release published on the official website of the University of Georgia on October 14, sustainability research specialist Dr. Punete Dwivedi believes that “if we can secure the supply of raw materials and provide appropriate economic incentives for the supply operations, we will likely produce fuel sustainable flight from the mustard plant grown in the southern United States.

He added that this sustainable fuel "can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation sector while creating economic opportunities and improving ecosystem services across the southern region."

According to a 2019 report by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute in Washington, DC, the aviation industry has generated approximately 2.4 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions.

These emissions have increased to 3.5% of total global emissions, according to a study published in January of this year in the journal "Atmospheric Environment".

Competitive pricing backed by political orientation
Sustainable aviation fuel made from canoe is not a new idea, as it was developed and tested a few years ago and the first pure biofuel based on Brassica carinata was successfully launched in 2012, however the cost was much higher than conventional jet fuel.

Here, it must be clarified that the researchers did not target in their new study the idea of ​​proving that sustainable fuels are viable, as it is an idea that was previously proposed, but they aimed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of sustainable fuels and reduce emissions.

And a price per liter of jet fuel currently traditional about US $ 0.50, while the price of a liter ranging from sustainable fuel product from the mustard plant between $ 0.85 and $ 1.28.

However, governments offer incentives to reduce emissions that did not exist in 2012, such as the Joe Biden administration's Sustainable Aviation Fuels initiative, in which tax credits are offered for emissions minimums of 50% compared to conventional jet fuel.

The study showed that if all available US credits were taken into account, the cost of sustainable aviation fuel made from the mustard plant would range between $0.12 and $0.66 per liter, which is a competitive price compared to conventional fuel.

In the press release, researchers emphasized the importance of government support for sustainable fuels, with Dwivedi stating that “current policy directions must continue to support the manufacture and distribution of sustainable aviation fuels. The initiative announced by President Biden could also be a game changer." in favor of supporting sustainable fuel production from the mustard plant.

Challenges and solutions
Like other new theses, sustainable aviation fuel faces many challenges, including the ability to replace important food crops, and questions about whether it is possible to grow enough crops to manufacture enough fuel, in addition to the place and mechanisms of cultivation, the type of crop and its effectiveness in reducing emissions.

In turn, the researchers argue, cane rapeseed can be grown in southeastern states, where temperatures tend to be warmer in the winter months and outside the food season, which means they won't directly compete with other crops. Secondary waste from the sustainable fuel industry can also be used to produce animal feed.

The study highlighted an important problem, which is the lack of infrastructure in the United States to convert the crop into sustainable fuels. Therefore, researchers are currently studying the feasibility of building these facilities, hoping to guide farmers, investors and policy makers to issue supportive decisions in this regard.

According to the report of the "Science Alret" website, Dwivedi explained that the results of their study will be directed to the state of Georgia in particular, "because it is the sixth largest consumer of conventional jet fuel in the country, and it also includes the world's busiest airport, and is the headquarters of the leading global airline." Delta.
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