Qantas flight powered by mustard seeds
Summary: Thousands of kilograms of mustard seeds have helped Qantas make the world’s first dedicated biofuel flight between the US and Australia, with QF96 from Los Angeles to Melbourne due to arrive just after 10am tomorrow.....
Qantas is using biofuel processed from Brassica carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed, developed by Canadian agricultural-technology company Agrisoma Biosciences.
The flight is part of a partnership in which the two companies will work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.
The 15-hour trans-Pacific flight operated with about 24,000kg of blended biofuel, saving 18,000kg in carbon emissions.
Qantas International chief executive Alison Webster said it was fitting that the airline’s Dreamliner 787-9 was carrying the biofuel.
“The aircraft is more fuel efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than similarly sized-aircraft and today’s flight will see a further reduction on this route,” Ms Webster said.
“Our partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jet fuel industry in Australia — it is a project we are really proud to be part of as we look at ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations.”
Ms Webster said the biofuel goes through exactly the same certification and tests as standard aviation protocols.
Across its life cycle, carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared with traditional jet fuel, according to Qantas.
It requires no specialised production or processing techniques and is water efficient, with field trials by the University of Queensland demonstrating its suitability in the Australian climate.
“Biojet fuel made from carinata delivers both oil for biofuel and protein for animal nutrition while also enhancing the soil its grown in,” Agrisoma chief executive Steve Fabijanski said.
Carinata is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping”.
Rotational or break-crops can improve soil quality, reduce erosion for food crops and provide farmers with additional income.
One hectare of carinata seed yields 2000 litres of oil, which produces 400 litres of biofuel, 1400 litres of renewable diesel and 10 per cent renewable by-products.
Tomorrow’s flight comes after Qantas ran trials in 2012 on a Sydney-Adelaide service powered by a biofuel that combined cooking oil with conventional jet fuel.
Virgin Australia announced last year that it would trial biofuel on planes out of Brisbane for the next two years.