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Scientists make biofuel breakthrough


Researchers in America have developed a new method to produce low cost bio-jet fuel for the aviation industry.

A team from the University of Illinois has engineered sugarcane that can produce a sustainable oil called lipidcane, used to make jet fuel or biodiesel. The university released analyses showing 54 acres of it could power a Boeing 747 aircraft for 10 hours.

“We estimate that this biofuel would cost the airline industry $5.31/gallon, which is less than most of the reported prices of renewable jet fuel produced from other oil crops or algae,” explained Deepak Kumar, a postdoctoral researcher at Illinois.

The PETROSS (Plants Engineered to Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sorghum) research project – backed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) – has pioneered the breakthrough.

“PETROSS sugarcane is also being engineered to be more cold tolerant, potentially enabling it to be grown on an estimated 23 million acres of marginal land in the Southeastern U.S.,” added PETROSS Director Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. “If all of this acreage was used to produce renewable jet fuel from lipid-cane, it could replace about 65% of national jet fuel consumption.”


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