South Africa: First sustainable flight in Africa fueled by tobacco (BIOMASS Magazine)

| August 8, 2016

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South African Airways has found a new use for tobacco as a sustainable biojet fuel. In early July, the airline celebrated Africa’s first sustainable flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, using tobacco-based fuel.

The fuel is produced from Solaris, a traditionally cross-bred variety of tobacco that contains no nicotine. Solaris produces a lot of seeds, but few leaves.

The flight is being heralded as “socially responsible.” It creates an opportunity to improve the lives of small-scale farmers by alleviating poverty and offering employment to farmers at a time when cigarette sales are falling. The flight is also evidence that it is possible to produce environmentally sustainable fuel.

Boeing, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, and World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa say they are working to ensure small-scale farmers can compete with commercial farmers to supply the biofuel. Solaris is currently being cultivated by small-scale and commercial farmers in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

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Photo credit: Biofuels International