Boeing and South Africa Airlines currently developing biofuel from tobacco seeds

As governments look to reduce their fossil fuel dependence, companies are coming up with ingenious ways to develop biofuels from crops. The latest development sees Boeing and South Africa Airlines attempting to utilize a declining cash crop: tobacco.

Wired’s Autopia is reporting on an initiative by the airplane maker and airline in an effort to reduce air travel’s carbon footprint and their reliance on traditional jet fuel.

The specifics are definitely worth a read, but it could re-open a very interesting door unintentionally: tobacco sponsorship in motorsport.

Over the last 20 years, health advocacy groups and health-focused governments have taken aim at tobacco sponsorship in sports (and motorsport in particular), banning the practice outright in most cases (in Canada, almost any form of tobacco sponsorship is illegal). This has lead to tobacco companies finding other ways, though not as successfully, into motorsport through e-cigarette advertising.

With most motorsport series looking at alternative fuels in an effort to appear more environmentally conscious, tobacco-based biofuels look like a prime opportunity for big tobacco to get back on the starting grid.

The tobacco plant used for the biofuel by Boeing and South Africa Airlines, dubbed Solaris, is heavy in seed but contains virtually no nicotine. However, if the big players in the tobacco industry were to market biofuels under the same names as their smokeable and non-smokeable nicotine-delivery products, it could create an environment where tobacco is once again as prominent as Shell and AirAsiaon racing cars once more.

What do you think? Let us know on the forum!

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]


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