Campus News

Forestry faculty member finds way to cut down airplane emissions

Puneet Dwivedi, associate professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources’ sustainability sciences department, discussed recent research with EuroNews about reducing plane emissions.

Emissions from planes and the aviation industry contribute 2.5% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., making it a major contributor to global warming. A new fuel in planes could aid in reducing this impact.

Dwivedi states in a new study that a type of mustard plant, Brassica carinata, could be used as a biofuel replacement, reducing emissions by 68%.

“Carinata-based SAF could help reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector while creating economic opportunities and improving the flow of ecosystem services across the Southern region,” Dwivedi said.

Carinata is grown in the Southeast, and therefore could be helping Georgia in more ways than one.

“In the South, we can grow carinata as a winter crop because our winters are not as severe compared to other regions of the country,” he said. “Since carinata is grown in the ‘off’ season it does not compete with other food crops, and it does not trigger food versus fuel issues. Additionally, growing carinata provides all the cover-crop benefits related to water quality, soil health, biodiversity and pollination.”

Georgia is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is currently the busiest airport in the world.

“Our results would be especially relevant to the state of Georgia, which is the sixth-largest consumer of conventional aviation fuel in the country, hosts the busiest airport in the world, and is home to Delta, a leading global airline company,” he said.

Dwivedi said that changing fuel sources will need to happen eventually, so Georgia could get ahead of the field by investing in the mustard biofuel.

“Carinata has the potential to be a win-win situation for our rural areas, the aviation industry, and most importantly, climate change,” Dwivedi said.