Australia’s iconic gum trees don’t just look and smell great – they could one day be used to power jets.
Compounds called terpenes found in the oil produced by eucalypts can be converted to high-energy fuel. Researchers at the Australian National University, led by Carsten Kulheim, are trying to boost terpene production through genetic analysis, advanced breeding techniques, genetic engineering and improving oil harvesting and processing.
Eucalyptus-based fuel would initially be more expensive than fossil fuels to make on a mass scale, but produce significantly fewer carbon emissions.
Planting 20 million hectares of eucalyptus species – around the same that’s currently used to grow trees for paper and pulp – could produce enough fuel for 5% of the aviation industry, Kulheim says.
The work will be published in Trends in Biotechnology.
Originally published by Cosmos as Biologists produce jet fuel from gum trees
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.