Biofuel as Substitute for Jet Fuel

en:Japan Airlines Flight 123 ja:日本航空123便墜落事故の想像図

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A study conducted at the Michigan Technological University claims that the seeds of a weed can be used to fuel airplanes in the future. Carmelina sativa is an oilseed crop that can be utilized to decrease the carbon emissions made by aircrafts, by as much as 84 percent.

What’s unique about carmelina is that it requires low amounts of fertilizers while giving a high amount of oil yield, and the availability of by-products such as biomass and meal. The study took into consideration the whole process, from planting of the carmelina up to the resulting emission from an airplane’s tailpipe.

Until today, I was not familiar with carmelina sativa, so I did some research. It turns out that it belongs to the mustard family. It is also known as “gold of pleasure,” and “false flax.” It is native to Europe, requires low maintenance, and can be grown in rotation with wheat. It also strengthens the soil in which it is planted.

Another good thing about carmelina is that it only takes around 85 to 100 days before one can harvest it. The plant is also frost tolerant so it can be planted early. Excess carmelina can be used for animal feedstock.

At present, North Dakota, South Dakota, Eastern Washington, and Montana are cultivating carmelina. But once the demand for it increases, then other dry areas across the country can be used to cultivate the crop.

Carmelina oil may be an ideal substitute for jet fuel. It meets, and at times even exceeds, petroleum jet-fuel specifications. Engines don’t need to be converted to use it. Ethanol is already off the list, because jets can’t use oxygenated fuels.

The Boeing Company tested carmelina oil in cooperation with Japan Airlines earlier this year. The test results were reportedly astounding. Billy Grover, Boeing’s managing director of environmental strategy, stated that it performed better than traditional jet fuel and that it supports the company’s goal of looking for sustainable and renewable fuel sources which can help the aviation industry reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Although carmelina is seen as the best replacement for fossil jet fuel, there are some obstacles in the way. There are questions about availability of commercial-sized quantities of the crop, as well as its price. Most farmers are unaware of carmelina’s viability, and there are few refineries that process it. But if these factors are taken care of, this crop can bring in more jobs and opportunities, especially for those in the rural areas.

By | 2017-03-10T05:04:38-08:00 July 1st, 2009|Alternative Energy|

About the Author:

Grace is a writer for Living Clean, LLC.


  1. db September 22, 2010 at 12:54 am

    The case study of fuel consuming is enormous. It shows that the nearer future is going to suffer with the transportation and Aviation as well. Therefore, bio fuel is not a bad idea even a transportation sector is taking an action against it by researching on the bio fuel and a nanotechnology. Hope that the aviation will not be suffering with the cost and economy.

  2. canada September 20, 2010 at 4:25 am

    World will be bio-mic one day, its for sure as the technology is going out of limit in there research and development. I wish that it won’t be costly like a fuel and also the things will be different and in a new way.

  3. Paul Jean October 25, 2009 at 7:58 am

    This new discovery can really be a great help in terms of costing and environmental concerns most especially. I agree with you, this biofuel alternative can provide lots of opportunities to rural areas. But the question now is if the large players in the oil industry will allow this to happen? They are the one who will be greatly affected if this will push through.

  4. Solana September 7, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Thats a nice story, I didn’t know about Carmelina Oil either but have read few months back I read that one Boeing was successfully taken off and landed safely using Vegetable oil. I think it was in New Zealand, they were looking for the alternatives. I think if we look for alternatives, those alternatives will prove much cost effective as well for everyone.

  5. meandthecomputer August 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    It is really nice that there will be alternative to fossil oil fuels soon. I really hope this and other organic fuels become more viable soon.

    Because our environment is getting worst with all the pollution and the whole world is experiencing climate change nowadays.

  6. daniel August 24, 2009 at 5:21 am

    But if these factors are taken care of, this crop can bring in more jobs and opportunities, especially for those in the rural areas.
    .-= daniel´s last blog ..Drug Dealers Selling Vitamins =-.

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