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Sugarcane May Drastically Reduce Carbon Emissions From Airplanes

By Brian Spaen

Flying is a common, if not necessary, means of transportation for many people, but it's sadly not great for the environment. Now, researchers may have finally discovered a way to make jet fuel gentle on the environment. What's the magic ingredient? Sugarcane. “Lipidcane,” as scientists discovered, produces oil that can be converted into biodiesel. This solution could replace up to two-thirds of fuel consumption in the United States, meaning that it's no small feat.

Researchers from the University of Illinois estimated that aircrafts could fly for roughly 10 hours on lipid-producing sugarcane. According to the school news report, 20 percent of oil extracted from lipidcane can produce more than 37 times more jet fuel than soybeans per acre. That’s around 1,666 more gallons. This process is fairly simple to extract the oil, as these plants naturally produce it.

"We estimate that this biofuel would cost the airline industry $5.31 per gallon, which is less than most of the reported prices of renewable jet fuel produced from other oil crops or algae," said Deepak Kumar, who was the lead analyst in the study and works in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois.