Pass the mustard: Qantas uses mustard seeds to power a flight

Airlines have been testing a variety of aviation biofuels made from everything from sugar and used cooking oil to corn and forest wastes to replace some of the traditoinal jet fuel on airplanes and reduce carbon emissions.

On Sunday, Qantas gave it a try, flying its Dreaminliner 787-9 on the world’s first dedicated biofuel flight between the United States and Australia.

The 15-hour trans-Pacific flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne used about 54,000 pounds of blended biofuel made from Brassica Carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed developed by a Canadian-based agricultural-technology company.

The ten percent biofuel blend delivered a seven percent reduction in emissions on this route compared to normal operations.

Carinata is a promising biofuel source, says Qantas, because it needs no speical production or processing techniques, is water efficient and is a good crop to grow in the Australian climate, either in fallow areas where food crops don’t thrive or in between regalar crop cycles to improve soil quality.

Expect more biofuel flights to and from Australia in the future. In 2017, Qantas announced a project to work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.

This wasn’t the first biofuel flight for Qantas. In 2012 Qantas and Jetstar operated Australia’s first biofuel trial flights using biofuel that included used cooking oil.

 

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