Boeing to make jet fuel from tobacco

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It seems tobacco is not just used for smoking.

US plane-maker Boeing is tying up with South African Airways (SAA) to develop jet fuel from a tobacco plant. The goal: Cut carbon emissions and promote green energy in Africa's most advanced economy.

The jet fuel will be made from a hybrid tobacco plant known as Solaris and produced by alternative jet fuel maker SkyNRG, both companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Test farming of the plants, which are nicotine-free, is ongoing in South Africa.

The companies said biofuel output is expected in the "next few years".

They can use the hybrid tobacco and South African tobacco growers' experience "to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking", said SAA's Group Environmental Affairs Specialist Ian Cruickshank.

Green tie-up Photo: Airbus

This biofuel has potential in regions where traditional tobacco is cultivated, Boeing spokeswoman Jessica Kowal said. Areas include Africa, southern and central Europe, Asia, Oceania and Latin America.

South Africa wants fuel producers to start blending diesel and petrol with biofuel to cut its reliance on imported fuel by next October.

- Reuters