Sydney - A Qantas Boeing 787-9 flew a trans-Pacific route using a biofuel blend between Los Angeles and Melbourne, where it landed on Tuesday, January 30.
The 15-hour flight powered by General Electric GEnx engines used a 10% blend of biofuel made from Brassica carinata. It is a type of industrial mustard seed developed by Agrisoma Biosciences, a Canadian agricultural technology company. As part of a partnership announced in 2017, the company is working with Australian farmers to cultivate the country's first seed crop to develop a commercial biofuel by 2020.
Carinata was converted to jet fuel by AltAir Fuels in Paramount, California, using the Honeywell UOP process to produce HEFA biofuel (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) approved for use in aircraft up to 50% blended with conventional fuel.
AltAir is already using the UOP process to produce biofuel for United Airlines under a three-year, 15-million-gallon agreement. This fuel has flown regular flights from Los Angeles since March 2016.
Carinata does not require any specialized production or processing techniques. The oleaginous plant is easy to cultivate in fallow areas or sown areas between regular crop cycles where food crops fail. As a rotational crop, carinata improves soil quality, reduce erosion and provides farmers with additional income.
Field trials conducted by the University of Queensland in Gatton, South Australia. The research has shown that carinata should perform well in Australia's climate, the airline said.