This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
A humble plant grown in ancient times for its oil is making a welcome comeback – as a source of jet fuel. And the Pacific Northwest is well poised to be a leader in this growing and important industry.
Camelina, a flowering plant related to mustard, is being tested as a biofuel for military and commercial aviation.
A 50-50 blend already has been used successfully by the Air Force’s Thunderbirds squadron. And Boeing’s 747-8 freighter that flew trans-Atlantic into the Paris Air Show last week used a mixture of 85 percent kerosene and 15 percent camelina oil to power its four new General Electric engines.
Camelina-based biofuel is exciting for a number of reasons. It produces about 80 percent less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel. It can be grown with little water or nitrogen fertilizer. And it doesn’t displace food crops, as is the case with corn used to produce ethanol.
After the oil is extracted from the camelina seeds, the residual meal can be used as feed for livestock and poultry. (Bonus: Research shows that turkeys fed the camelina meal produce meat rich in omega-3 fatty acid.)
Read more »