Renewable Matter # 25 / January-February

Solaris Tobacco Crop, a New Hope to Power Africa's Biofuel Jetliners

by Ray Mwareya

Two years ago, for the first time, a Boing 737 flew 1,300 kilometres – from Johannesburg to Cape Town – using biofuel derived from Solaris tobacco. Here are the South African projects aiming to use this crop, as well as agricultural waste and biomass derived from the removal of invasive plant species, for aviation biofuel production.


Solaris is a humble crop, largely ignored by farmers across Africa because it contains none of the lucrative nicotine found in other tobacco varieties. Solaris is a non-GMO rop that is harvested yearly with high yields in seeds and biomass. However, in South Africa this largely ignored crop is making a giant leap from feeding livestock to powering a Boeing 737.


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