The aviation industry is a major carbon dioxide emitter and contributor to global warming. As a potential remedy, University of Georgia researchers recommend replacing conventional petroleum-based jet fuels with a sustainable aviation fuel derived from a type of mustard plant cultivated in the southeastern U.S.

A federal sustainable fuel tax credit proposed to scale up the production of sustainable aviation fuel Carinata, a non-edible oilseed mustard crop, can be cultivated to produce an aviation fuel with low carbon emissions. Source: Bill AndersonCarinata, a non-edible oilseed mustard crop, can be cultivated to produce an aviation fuel with low carbon emissions. Source: Bill Andersonnationwide requires a 50% reduction in life cycle carbon emissions. An analysis of the economic feasibility and life cycle carbon emissions associated with carinata-based aviation fuel production in the southeastern U.S. concludes that the mustard crop exceeds this requirement.

The price for producing fuel from carinata ranged from $0.12 to $1.28 per liter. The price for petroleum-based aviation fuel was $0.50 per liter, higher than carinata-based fuel when current economic incentives were included in the analysis. The plant-derived fuel is also associated with total carbon emissions of 918.67 g of carbon dioxide-equivalent/liter for a 68% reduction relative to the 2,618 g of carbon dioxide-equivalent/liter emissions associated with conventional aviation fuel.

The research is published in GCB Bioenergy.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com