Eco-friendly Jet Fuel: It’s Closer Than You Think

Biofuel sourcesThe U.S. uses 21 billion gallons of aviation fuel each year. Up in the air, nothing but liquid fuel will work. There is simply no electricity, battery, or compressed natural gas that works as well at flight altitudes. But as we reported last year, biofuels offer an alternative to standard jet fuel that could help reduce bizav’s carbon footprint.

Biofuels derived from organic sources, such as plants and algae, are expected to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 80% over standard petroleum-based fuels — and sooner than we might expect. New developments have made progress over the past year from three unique, and unexpected, sources.


Not entirely new in the biofuel market, corn is broken into starch, then sugar, and then converted to ethanol. The process has been used to create fuel for automobiles, and it continues to be refined so the percentage of ethanol extracted is exceptionally high.

Although corn continues to show promise of being a viable renewable fuel, it is not without controversy. Some worry that large-scale growth of corn for biofuel could affect the prices of food and animal feed. In response, some innovators are looking toward crops that are not tied to the global food supply.


Long recognized as a sugar alternative and a crop from which tequila is made, agave has some advantages over corn and sugar cane that may boost its development as a renewable fuel. In fact, Byogy Renewables has formed a strategic partnership with AusAgave Australia to develop low-cost sugars that are ideal for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals.

Agave’s advantages over other plant-based sugar sources include low water demand, low environmental impact, and low consumer demand. AusAgave has pushed agave yields a long way and has succeeded in producing more substantial biomass per acre than sugarcane, with twice the sugar content.


Boeing recently partnered with South African Airways (SAA) to make jet fuel from nicotine-free tobacco plants. The hybrid tobacco plant is called Solaris and will be produced by alternative jet fuel maker SkyNRG, which currently supplies biofuel to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for flights between New York and Amsterdam.

Test farming is currently underway in South Africa, and Boeing and SAA expect fuel production to begin in the next few years. The hybrid tobacco could result in a two-for-one win, as existing South Africa farms that currently lie idle as a result of the decline of tobacco consumption could become profitable again. SAA’s participation guarantees a ready and waiting customer for the tobacco jet fuel, which is an attractive feature for the business model.

With so many exciting major projects underway, the aviation industry is closer than ever to finding a sustainable fuel source. These efforts could curtail the airline industry’s carbon emissions — which account for 2% of the global emissions today — and make a big difference in air quality.

Contact L & L International if you need assistance in purchasing or selling a private jet. You can reach our sales specialists today at, call us any time at +1.305.754.3313, or visit us online.

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