Using mustard seed to power aeroplanes:
A Qantas plane powered partly by mustard seeds has become the world’s first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States, after landing in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The 15-hour flight used a blended fuel that was 10% derived from the brassica carinata, an industrial type of mustard seed that functions as a fallow crop – meaning it can be grown by farmers in between regular crop cycles.
The world-first used a Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 on a scheduled passenger service, QF96, and reduced carbon emissions by 7% compared with the airline’s usual flight over the same LA to Melbourne route. Compared pound for pound with jet fuel, carinata biofuel reduces emissions by 80% over the fuel’s life cycle.
Daniel Tan, an agriculture expert from the University of Sydney, said mustard seed could double as a valuable crop and a source of sustainable fuel for farmers.
“Almost within a day after harvesting, they can press the oil out in their own shed and use it straight into their tractors,” he said.
“Basically it’s good for growing, and also farmers can also use it. If they grow wheat every year it’s not good for the soil. They can grow mustard seed in between the wheat crops, every second or third year, press the oil and use it locally or export it for use in aviation fuel.
“A lot of the biodiesel now being processed is actually from waste oil from places like fish and chip shops. A lot of these oils can be processed, but the problem is that they can’t get consistent supply. The big problem with the biodisel industry in Australia is mainly the continuity of supply.”
OK. Mustard produces some 1 to 3 tonnes of seed per hectare (according to GOOG). This produces 400 litres of oil apparently, according to these peeps. A 747 uses 4 litres per second of fuel (obvs, an average).
Roughly speaking, we get a minute and a half of flight per hectare.
There are some 100,000 (a guess, but a reasonable one) flights a day. Of 90 minutes (another guess, but again a reasonable one) duration and not all are 747s but let’s just try to get a sense of scale here. So, we need 100,000 x 60 x 365 hectares of mustard to power ‘planes. 2.2 billion hectares of land.
This is more than current total cropped land.
Not a solution then.
Please do check my numbers. I can easily lose orders of magnitude……