World's first dedicated Australia-US biofuel flight

The world’s first dedicated biofuel flight between the United States and Australia, QF96 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, was set to take off in late January. The historic trans-Pacific 15-hour flight operated with approximately 24,000kg of blended biofuel, saving 18,000kg in carbon emissions.

Qantas will use biofuel processed from Brassica Carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed, developed by Canadian-based agricultural-technology company, Agrisoma Biosciences (Agrisoma). The flight is part of the partnership announced in 2017 which will also see the companies work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.

“Our partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jetfuel industry in Australia – it is a project we are really proud to be part of as we look at ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations” said Qantas International CEO Alison Webster.

Across its lifecycle, using Carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by eighty percent compared to traditional jet fuel. The ten percent biofuel blend used on the latest flight will therefore see a seven percent reduction in emissions on this route compared to normal operations.

Carinita requires no specialised production or processing techniques. It is water efficient and The University of Queensland field trials in Gatton, Queensland, and in Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated it should do very well in the Australian climate.

It is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping”. Rotational or break-crops can improve soil quality, reduce erosion for food crops and provide farmers with additional income.

Source: 2018, Qantas Airways

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