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UF project focuses on converting oilseed to jet fuel

A promising University of Florida agricultural project in Northwest Florida is focused on producing an oilseed crop that can be converted into high-performance aviation jet fuel.

The seed crop being grown near Quincy, about 30 miles northwest of Tallahassee, is the little-known Brassica carinata plant. "It is a non-food crop," says Sheeja George, project manager and agricultural scientist at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center. "But it is an oilseed crop that produces sustainable aviation fuel and renewable biodiesel.”

George adds that as carinata becomes more widely grown, the oil could potentially replace petroleum and other non-renewable fossil fuels as a sustainable aviation fuel resource.

Once the oil is extracted, the leftover biomass can be used as high-quality protein animal feed.

Although still in the research phase, the use of carinata oil for jet fuel is not a novel concept.

In 2012, carinata oil was used to power the first flight of a jet aircraft completely by biofuel.

Ramdeo Seepaul, assistant research scientist in the Agronomy Department and the North Florida Research and Education Center, says the Quincybased project is taking a different approach in developing a commercially viable carinata biomass. “We are able to grow the crop in the off-season that's planted in November and harvested in May when the land is usually left underutilized,” Seepaul says. “It provides an opportunity to build the soil health while at the same time allowing a producer to double-crop so that they can have increased revenue.”