Dec 9, 2014 - Amsterdam-based SkyNRG said today that, together with partners, it has officially launched the project to produce bio jet fuel from nicotine-free tobacco in South Africa.
SkyNRG has developed the project alongside Sunchem Biofuel Development South Africa (Pty) Ltd, a joint venture between Italian sector company Sunchem Holding and a group of investors. The initiative is also supported by South African Airways (SAA) and US aerospace group Boeing Co (NYSE:BA).
The project aims at producing sustainable jet fuel from a tobacco plant variety called Solaris. The developers have planted 50 hectares of the crop in commercial and community farms located in South Africa’s northernmost Limpopo province. The first harvest will occur this month, with plans to start converting oil from Solaris seeds into jet fuel in 2015, at the earliest. After that, SAA will make a test flight using that fuel.
When the biofuel is produced in an optimised supply chain set up, savings are estimated to hit 75% compared to fossil jet fuel, SkyNRG noted.
The Solaris plant has been developed and patented by Sunchem. The parties plan to extend the project activities to other regions of South Africa and possibly to other countries too, in case of a successful test farming.