News / Science & Technology

Boeing Looks to Make Tobacco Into Fuel in S. Africa

FILE - South African Airways passenger jet.
FILE - South African Airways passenger jet.

Related Articles

Video Philadelphia Laundry Succeeds by Being Green

Social innovator launched Wash Cycle Laundry four years ago and not only achieved his initial goals but has plans to expand the business to other cities

It’s rare to see tobacco being smoked on airline flights these days, but in the near future, tobacco could be used to power commercial jetliners.
 
Boeing, South African Airways and SkyNRG have announced an initiative to create biofuel from a new kind of tobacco plant.
 
The hybrid plant, known as Solaris, was developed by SkyNRG, a Dutch firm, is nicotine free and, according to Julie Felgar, managing director for Boeing’s Environmental Strategy and Integration, has many more seeds than traditional tobacco plants.
 
For now, only the oil from the seeds will be used to make biofuel, but Felgar said technologies are being developed that could render fuel from the entire plant.
 
"By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking," said Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist in a statement. "This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region's economic opportunity."
 
There are two drivers pushing biofuel.
 
First, over the past decade, aviation fuel prices have been volatile and increasingly higher, Felgar said. This, she added, makes it hard to operate. She said fuel accounts for around 35 to 40 percent of airlines’ operating costs.
 
Secondly, airlines want to reduce their carbon footprint.
 
According to the International Air Transport Association, which represents 240 airlines, the aviation industry accounts for 2 percent of global, man-made carbon emissions. Five years ago, the group said the industry was committed to capping carbon emissions.
 
Boeing said sustainable biofuels could reduce carbon emissions “by 50 to 80 percent” compared to jet fuel.
 
That will be difficult for an industry that operates on razor thin margins and is expected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years. Felgar said Boeing expects orders of 36,000 planes over that time.
 
Boeing’s goal is that by 2016, the sustainable aviation biofuel supply will be capable of meeting 1 percent (600 million gallons) of global jet fuel demand.
 
Tobacco won’t be a panacea, but merely a piece of the puzzle in moving toward widespread use of biofuel. Today, biofuels power only a tiny sliver of flights.
 
Different regions of the world may have different biofuel solutions.
 
As potential source of biofuel in the United Arab Emirates, Boeing said it was looking at the viability of a halophyte plant that can be irrigated with seawater. In Brazil, the company said, biofuels have been made from sugar cane. Another source can be found in discarded chicken fat.
 
Felgar said it’s hard to predict when airlines’ use of biofuels will take off, but that developments over the past 7 to 8 years would indicate an “inflection point is coming up.”
 
Other factors will help as well, such as better designed aircraft and more efficient operations on the ground, Felgar said.
 
While many biofuels have been criticized for infringing on food crops, using water and land that could be used to grow consumable plants, Felgar said Boeing is working to ensure its biofuel is sustainable.

Felgar said South Africa was a logical choice for this initiative because “South African Airlines is very progressive in their environmental commitment,” and that using the hybrid tobacco will help rural tobacco farmers who have been negatively impacted by decreasing demand for their product.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
August 08, 2014 7:33 AM
Tobacco I have long believed is an invaluable plant that has been wrongly tarnished due to its connection to cancer through smoking. Tobacco will be considered as valuable as aspirin one day in the future. If I were an investor, I would invest heavily in tobacco growing for medicinal and industrial uses. This change for tobacco's image will bring healthy changes in our general outlook in life as we see positive aspects that some negative aspects have blinded us to seeing. It is indeed a theory I have had that the consumption of tobacco in the right levels as a food through tea or medicinal pills might even be a cure for cancer. We must see all aspects of an element or natural product in order to get the most out of it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid