Monday, January 29, 2018

Oilseed crop being used as jet-fuel

A small but growing Quebec company, Agrisoma Biosciences Inc, is working to reduce the carbon footprint of the fast-growing international aviation industry.
They produce a biofuel from brassica carinata, an oilseed crop related to canola (rapeseed). Its oil, though, is not suitable for human consumption, and so its development will not affect the market and prices of cooking oil or other foodstuffs, which was a major complaint against producing ethanol from corn, for example. Neither does it require large quantities of water, pesticides or fertilizer, earning it a certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials. Agrisoma is also working with farmers to only use land that is not already being cultivated, or to use carinata as a rotation crop to replenish soils.
Carinata can be refined into a good jet-fuel, and Agrisoma currently has contracts with Quantas in Australia, as well as with refineries in Europe, southeastern USA and South America. Quantas uses a blend of traditional jet-fuel and just 10% carinata, which, given that the biofuel produces up to 80% less carbon emissions than traditional fuel on a life-cycle basis, results in a modest 7% reduction in emissions. But Agrisoma believes that carinata could eventually comprise a third of jet-fuel. Given that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 - and very few plans on how to achieve that - Agrisoma's biofuel innovation is attracting increasing attention.

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