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ATLANTA: With IATA airlines committed to cutting 21.2 Gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050, one solution that could help is the use of a non-edible mustard crop to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

According to new research from University of Georgia scientist Puneet Dwivedi, oil obtained from the Brassica carinata (Ethiopian mustard) plant can reduce emissions by 68 percent.

Dwivedi is part of the Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata (SPARC), a US$15 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The partners, including eight universities, have discovered carinata-based SAF can be grown and refined for as low as US$0.12 per litre - compared to fossil-based aviation fuel of US$0.50.

Dwivedi, associate professor at the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, says carinata-based SAF could be viable in Georgia, Alabama and Florida with sufficient feedstock and financial incentives.

“In the South we can grow carinata as a winter crop because our winters are not as severe compared to other regions of the country,” he said. “Since carinata is grown in the ‘off’ season it does not compete with other food crops, and it does not trigger food versus fuel issues. Additionally, growing carinata provides all the cover-crop benefits related to water quality, soil health, biodiversity and pollination.”

He notes carinata-SAF would be particularly beneficial to Georgia which is the sixth-largest consumer of aviation fuel in the US, host of the busiest airport in the world and home to Delta Air Lines: “I am looking forward to pursuing more research for providing a sustainable alternative to our current model of air travel. Carinata has the potential to be a win-win situation for our rural areas, the aviation industry, and most importantly, climate change,” concluded Dwivedi.

Commenting on the decision by Delta to join the Race to Zero initiative; the LEAF Coalition, as the first airline; and World Economic Forum's Clean Skies for Tomorrow Ambition Statement, airline Sustainability managing director Amelia DeLuca declared: "The only real way for us to impact climate change is for everyone to align behind a net-zero emissions goal. These coalitions unite resources, investments and minds to collectively work towards sustainable aviation, where our customers do not have to choose between seeing the world and saving it."
 
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