OCT 18, 2021 10:30 AM PDT

Reducing Jet Fuel Emissions Using Plant-Based Fuel

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Airplanes have certainly revolutionized global travel, allowing people to traverse our wide world with relative ease. But as with other forms of transportation that run on petroleum-based fuel, airplanes produce a lot of carbon emissions. In 2018, it was estimated that carbon emissions from jet planes would hit 900 million metric tons, and then triple nearly 30 years later. However, emissions could be rising faster than expected.

While the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced the amount of airline traffic and carbon emissions, that will only be a temporary pause. New solutions are needed now to reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced by jet planes. Researchers at the University of Georgia are investigating sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as an emerging strategy. 

Specifically, a research team led by Dr. Puneet Dwivedi, have shown that a type of mustard plant--Brassica carinata--could be used as a raw material for producing SAF. Research findings are published in GCB Bioenergy.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions by 68% compared to petroleum-based fuel, carinata-based fuel may have potential cost benefits as well. In their analysis, the research team noted that producing carinata-based SAF could range from $0.12 to $1.28 per liter; comparatively, petroleum jet fuel costs about $0.50 to produce. However, the research team also noted that proposed economic incentives (e.g., tax credits), which were put forth by the Biden administration and intended to drive production of SAF and reduce carbon-based emissions, could make the production of carinata-based fuel more affordable.  

Researchers note that growing the southern United States has the optimal conditions from growing the carinata plant. The plant is relatively hearty, and can grow well in the mild winters present in the south. And because the plant doesn’t compete for space or time with other food crops--it’s grown in the “off season”--there won’t be the issue of choosing food versus fuel. 

Turning the plant’s seed into an oil that can be used for SAF requires an infrastructure that is currently not present, however. Researchers note that with the right tax incentives and proper supply chain infrastructure, brassica carinata could be grown effectively in the U.S. and offer an effective raw material for SAF production that could reduce global carbon emissions in the airline industry. 

Sources: Eureka Alert!; GCB Bioenergy; New York Times

About the Author
  • Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
OCT 05, 2021
Microbiology
Insects & Spiders Seem to Carry & Spread Antibiotic Resistance
OCT 05, 2021
Insects & Spiders Seem to Carry & Spread Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotic resistance is seen as a growing threat to public health, and scientists have been trying to develop new antib ...
OCT 14, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Cancer-Sniffing Worms: The Future of Diagnostics?
OCT 14, 2021
Cancer-Sniffing Worms: The Future of Diagnostics?
Researchers have unlocked a way of sniffing out cancer in patients with very-early-stage pancreatic cancer. This time, i ...
OCT 25, 2021
Plants & Animals
Flaxseed Could Help Improve Inflammation And Oxidative Stress in Diabetes and CKD
OCT 25, 2021
Flaxseed Could Help Improve Inflammation And Oxidative Stress in Diabetes and CKD
Diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are common conditions that cause a range of morbidities, such as stro ...
OCT 29, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
An Ancestor of Modern Humans is Given a Proper Name
OCT 29, 2021
An Ancestor of Modern Humans is Given a Proper Name
Homo bodoensis is a direct ancestor of modern humans who lived in Africa during the Middle Pleistocene, and seen in this ...
NOV 03, 2021
Plants & Animals
New American Heart Association Guidelines: Diet Recommendations, Environmental Sustainability
NOV 03, 2021
New American Heart Association Guidelines: Diet Recommendations, Environmental Sustainability
The foods we eat have a significant impact on our health—that much is without question. Whether you choose to eat ...
NOV 23, 2021
Microbiology
The Malaria Parasite Gives Its Mosquito Host Advantages
NOV 23, 2021
The Malaria Parasite Gives Its Mosquito Host Advantages
When the parasite Plasmodium falciparium is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans, it causes malaria. So what does it do ...
Loading Comments...