‘World first’ US-Australia biofuel flight takes off
The world’s first dedicated biofuel flight between the United States and Australia, QF96 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, took off this week.
The trans-Pacific 15-hour flight operated with approximately 24,000kg of blended biofuel, saving 18,000kg in carbon emissions, according to Qantas.
Qantas is using 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 last year which will also see the companies work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.
Qantas International CEO, Alison Webster, said it was fitting that the airline’s Dreamliner 787-9 will showcase "the future of sustainable aviation".
She commented: “The Qantas Dreamliner marks an exciting new era of innovation and travel. The aircraft is more fuel-efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than similarly sized aircraft and [this] flight will see a further reduction on this route."
She added: "Our partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jet-fuel 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.”
Across its lifecycle, using Carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by 80% compared to traditional jet fuel, Qantas says.
The 10% biofuel blend used on the flight will therefore see a 7% 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, demonstrated that it should perform 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.
Agrisoma CEO, Steve Fabijanski, said: “Biojet fuel made from Carinata delivers both oil for biofuel and protein for animal nutrition while also enhancing the soil its grown in.
“We are excited about the potential of the crop in Australia and look forward to working with local farmers and Qantas to develop a clean energy source for the local aviation industry.”
QF96 departed LAX on Sunday, 28th January and arrived in Melbourne on 30th January (local time).