While the idea is not new, Boeing Co., one of the world's leading aircraft makers made the headlines when it announced in August 2014 that it will use for its planes biofuel created with a tobacco plant called Solaris. One may contend that this move could result in a major boost for the cigarette industry and consequently increase the adverse impacts to health throughout the world. But wait, there is a catch (isn't that always the case? :-) )! Solaris, the tobacco plant used to create the biofuel is completely new, it virtually doesn't contain any of the addictive component of tobacco that is Nicotine. Therefore the headlines claiming "innovation" were to some extent justified. Added to that, tobacco plants are ubiquitous around the world, and the plant generates multiple harvests per year; which makes this tobacco based hybrid biofuel even more appealing if not ideal for the Seattle-based Boeing Co. who partnered with South African Airways and a Dutch aviation biofuels company called SkyNRG.
“By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking,” Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group environmental affairs specialist, told the LA Times.
To summarize : Boeing will power its aircrafts with tobacco making this biofuel innovation smoking hot (small pun intended...) and furthering the steps toward a renewable-based world economy.
Image source: le Quotidien du Tourisme newsletter du 19 Septembre 2014