Partially Mustard-Powered Airliner Takes to the Sky

The world's first passenger airliner to use a combination of regular fuel and a biofuel made from mustard seed oil took to the sky at the beginning of this week, heading from Los Angeles to Melbourne. The flight experiment has been made with passengers onboard, and it went flawlessly for the entire 15-hour duration.
Qantas flies the world's first mustard powered airliner 1 photo
The plane used in this world premiere is a Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 belonging to Qantas Airlines, one of Australia's biggest operators. It its fuel tanks was a mixture of 90 percent regular jet fuel and 10 percent biofuel. The biofuel was made from Brassica carinata, a type of mustard usually grown between regular crops.

When the flight was over, Qantas found that it had made a 7 percent reduction in carbon emissions, compared to a regular airliner flying the same route. A pound-per-pound jet fuel comparison over the fuel's life cycle would mean an 80 percent reduction in emissions, says The Guardian.

According to Qantas, in the case of brassica carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed, the seeds are above-ground, meaning that after the oil has been extracted, high protein animal feed remains.

The ones who developed the seed, Canadian company Agrisoma Biosciences, say that "one hectare of Carinata seed yields 2,000 liters of oil, which produces 400 liters of biofuel, 1,400 liters of renewable diesel, and 10% renewable by-products."

For the near future, this type of fuel mixture will be used on the Los Angeles Melbourne route alone. Both Qantas and Agrisoma plan, however, to work with Australian farmers so that by the year 2020 the first commercial aviation biofuel crop to be ready.

According to several studies, aviation is responsible for 2% of the total global carbon emissions. That number is expected to rise to 3% by 2050. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set a goal to have 6 percent new biofuels available by 2020, while the industry as a whole targets a 50% decrease in carbon emission by the middle of the century.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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