The world’s first US-Australia biofuel flight has been announced, and will take place early next year with Australian researchers helping to provide the fuel.
The plane will be powered by Brassica carinata, an industrial type of mustard seed that are being trialled at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus.
UQ faculty of science researcher Dr van Herwaarden has led the seed crop trials in collaboration with Agrisoma BioSciences, a Canadian agricultural technology company.
Several trials in Queensland and South Australia have demonstrated that carinata can be grown successfully in Australia. The seeds produce high quality oil that are ideal for aviation biofuel.
The crop seems almost too good to be true – it’s water efficient and requires no specialised production or processing techniques. In addition, the crushed seeds can provide a high quality, high protein meal for Australia livestock.
The crops are even capable of biofumigation which can improve soil quality and increase the yield of subsequent crops, making it a great investment for farmers.
The potential commercial use of carinata based fuel in the future holds the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the aviation industry.
Qantas and Agrisoma, hope to continue working with Australian farmers after the first test flight to grow Australia’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop in the future.
Sarah Condie is a freelance writer based in Melbourne.
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