Gas Emissions: A survey published this month in the scientific journal GCB Bioenergy analyzes the economic feasibility of using the Brassica carinata plant (a type of mustard) as a source of sustainable fuel for aviation (SAF). According to the study’s lead author, the reduction in carbon footprint with the use of the researched fuel can reach 68% in the United States. However, a tax incentive is needed to equalize production costs.
Professor at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, USA, Puneet Dwivedi led a team that drew up estimates of the break-even price of the SAF as well as the total carbon lifecycle emissions of the fuel. To reach the final product, oil from the so-called Abyssinian mustard, an inedible oilseed, was used.
Tax incentive for sustainable aviation fuels
The study led by Dwivedi came at an opportune time, as in September the government of President Joe Biden proposed a tax incentive for SAF production, based on the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge program, which projects a 20% drop. in aviation emissions by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050. But the president requires a counterpart of at least 50% in emissions, a goal that the carinata surpasses.
The cost assessment of producing SAF carinata in the US ranged from a minimum of $0.12 per liter to $1.28 per liter, based on current tax and market incentives. As jet fuel made from petroleum costs 50 cents per liter, “current policy mechanisms must continue to support the manufacture and distribution of SAF.” explains Dwivedi.
Because it is a food crop, carinata does not compete with traditional crops that are normally planted in the summer. As a result, it is cultivated in the winter and, for this reason, it was taken to the south, “because our winters are not as severe compared to other regions of the country”, says Dwivedi, who is part of the Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables in Carinata , or SPARC.
SPARC is a $15 million (R$83 million) agricultural project, entirely funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to the oil for the production of SAF and diesel, the seed of carinata can produce a high-protein flour for cattle feed.
As for the most promising raw materials for the production of SAF, what is known is that they are plants that contain sugars, starch and oil, in addition to residues and industrial exhaust gases. In Brazil, for example, the crops considered natural candidates to supply the beginning of a biofuel industry are sugarcane, soy and eucalyptus.