Boeing’s Figuring Out How to Make Jet Fuel From Tobacco

You can’t use tobacco while flying, but your plane can. Boeing is working with South African Airways to power the carrier’s planes with biofuel derived from a new breed of tobacco plant.

Biofuels work just like fossil fuels, but they are made from renewable sources like algae, wood, agricultural waste, and camelina and jatropha plants. Finding alternatives to dino-juice is a key goal for the airline industry, because fuel is an airline’s single biggest expense—it accounts for one-third of all operating expenses. Beyond the financial savings, the International Air Transport Association estimates biofuels can cut the industry’s overall carbon footprint by 80 percent. No wonder dozens of airlines already have tested them in flight.

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