Australian Qantas Airways, together with Canadian agritech company Agrisoma Biosciences, flew the first dedicated biofuel-powered flight between Australia and the USA on 28 January, using a jet biofuel produced from an industrial oilseed.
The flight QF96 from Los Angeles to Melbourne used approximately 24 tonnes of Brassica Carinata, also known as Ethiopian mustard or Ethiopian rape, which is a non-food type of mustard seed developed by Agrisoma, Biofuels Digest reported on 29 January
The seed could lower carbon emissions by 80% over it lifecycle when compared to fossil jet fuel, and Qantas said the 10% blend used on the Los Angeles-Melbourne flight saved 18 tonnes in carbon emissions, marking a 7% reduction from “normal operating conditions”.
“This 10% [blend] represents a pivotal shift in helping airlines like Qantas work towards 100% carbon neutral growth starting in 2021,” said Agrisoma CEO Steve Fabijanski.
The Carinata fuel was processed using Honeywell’s Renewable Jet Fuel processing technology by AltAir Fuels at its 35M gallons/year refinery in Paramount, California, which was the world’s first commercial-scale renewable jet fuel processing plant, according to Biofuels Digest.
Carinata required no specialised production or processing techniques and could be grown in either fallow areas where food crops did not thrive or between regular crop cycles, which could improve soil quality, reduce erosion and provide farmers with additional income, the news site said.
One hectare of the oilseed yielded 2,000 litres of oil, which could produce 400 litres of biofuel, 1,400 litres of renewable diesel and 10% renewable byproducts, including a high-protein non-GMO meal for livestock feed.
Apart from Australia and the USA, Carinata cultivation was also being attempted in South America, where the Finnish forestry concern UPM Kymmene was working with local farmers to introduce the plant as a way for farmers to make use of their fields during winter months and provide them with a new source of income, Biofuels Digest said.