According to a new study, there is a crop that could reduce carbon emissions by up to 68 percent – by switching to a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) derived from plants. Specifically, the non-edible oilseed crop Brassica carinata, a variety of mustard plant. The potential with this plant is limitless; it could not only help the environment, but, it could be more cost-effective than petroleum fuel.
Roughly 2.4 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 were generated by the aviation industry, according to a report by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. A study published earlier this year found that these emissions constitute a contribution of 3.5 percent to anthropogenic climate change.
“Current policy mechanisms should be continued to support manufacturing and distribution of SAF. The Grand Challenge announced by President Biden could be a game-changer in supporting carinata-based SAF production in the southern region.”
The US currently lacks the infrastructure for turning the crop into fuel. The feasibility of building these facilities is the focus of the team’s current research, with the hope of informing decisions to be made by farmers, investors and policy-makers.