Could tobacco soon fuel jets by tweaking crop’s genetics?

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Photo by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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. . . [F]irst-generation tobacco grower Robert Mills hopes tobacco-based biofuel can spark a profitable future for tobacco growers. . . .

Over the past four decades, the demand for tobacco in the US has declined. . . .

Since 2009, the US biofuel company Tyton BioEnergy Systems has partnered with agronomists. . . and tobacco growers to research the potential for turning tobacco into biomass. . . .

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Researchers are pioneering selective breeding techniques and genetic engineering to increase tobacco’s sugar and seed oil content to create a promising source of renewable fuel. The low-nicotine varieties require little maintenance, are inexpensive to grow and thrive where other crops would fail.

. . . .

. . . .[I]n South Africa, Project Solaris, a collaboration between Boeing and South African Airways, is focused on developing aviation biofuel from tobacco crops with a goal of operating its first tobacco-fuelled passenger flight in 2016.

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. . . .

“I know we’re not going to get the same returns we get on traditional tobacco but we have a lot less labour so it’s a lot cheaper to produce and it’s more competitive per acre than commodities like corn and soybeans,” says Mills.

Read full, original post: Meet the US farmers turning their tobacco into airplane fuel

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