|Tobacco farm workers in Marble Hall, South Africa, carry Solaris seedlings from a nursery to the field. Photo: Boeing
[Avionics Today 12-10-14] Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) announced that South African farmers will soon harvest their first crop of energy-rich tobacco plants, an important step toward using the plants to produce sustainable aviation biofuel.
Boeing and SAA, along with partners SkyNRG and Sunchem, also officially launched Project Solaris, their collaborative effort to develop an aviation biofuel supply chain with a nicotine-free tobacco plant called Solaris. The project has planted more than 100 acres of Solaris in South Africa’s Limpopo province. Oil from the plant’s seeds may be converted into alternative jet fuel as early as next year, with a test flight by SAA as soon as practicable.
Airlines have conducted more than 1,600 passenger flights using aviation biofuel, which may reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 75 percent, since the fuel was approved for commercial use in 2011.