KLM is one of the growing number of airlines looking to camelina, completing the first aviation biofuel with passengers late last year. Photo: Peter Hellberg.
Camelina is emerging as an aviation biofuel feedstock with some promise. Everyone from KLM to Japan Airlines to the US Navy has used camelina in their biofuel blends with encouraging results. Not to mention that a life-cycle analysis of the plant shows that it can reduce emissions nearly 85% from conventional jet fuel. If you're interested in where all this is heading, Biofuels Digest has an interesting interview with the head of Great Plains, one of two big players in camelina. The quick version:
Best Grown in Rotation With Wheat
Camelina is essentially a rotation crop, doing best where a farmer grows wheat the first year, camelina the second, and then wheat again. Great Plains doesn't envision farmers just growing camelina year after year in the same fields. (Avoiding claims of diverting land for food crops, check.) Basically, though you may have to use a different variety for different places, if you can grow wheat, you can grow camelina.
It's currently being grown in nine states in the US plus four Canadian provinces. Trials are going on in the twelve states, with 37 states being the goal.
80,000 Acres in 2010 in Montana Alone
Area currently under camelina cultivation? Great Plains declined to give specific numbers to Biofuels Digest but said that 2009 saw a doubling of acreage and 2010 will see the same sort of growth. Quick digging on BD's part shows that means about 80,000 acres in 2010 for Great Plains in Montana alone, with greater contracted acreage in other US states and Canada.
Under its newly announced partnership with BioJet, by 2012 some 200 million gallons per year of camelina-based biofuel will be produced. Keep in mind that global demand for aviation fuel for passenger flights is upwards of 40 billion gallons annually.
$70/barrel+ Oil Needed...
As far as price is concerned, Great Plains says it aims to improve processes so that camelina-based fuel is cost-competitive with $70/barrel oil, without subsidies.
Read more: Great Plains doubling camelina acreage in 2010 as aviation biofuels darling gains traction
So How Much Agricultural Land Will We Need to Keep Global Aviation Aloft with Biofuels?
84% Reduction in Jet Fuel Carbon Emissions Possible Using Camelina
Japan Airlines Finds Biofuel More Efficient Than Petro-Fuel in Test Flight