Agrisoma, United Airlines and World Energy complete longest transatlantic biojet flight

September 16, 2018 |

Carinata is proving that it is a feedstock to be reckoned with, a compelling catalyst for change, with the latest news that Agrisoma, United Airlines and World Energy came together for the longest rransatlantic biojet flight yet.

Lots of biofuel flights have been happening over the last few years, so why is this one different? First, at 11 hours long, it’s the longest transatlantic biojet flight yet. Second, it’s running on carinata, that beautiful yellow field of flowers that can’t help but make you smile when you drive by them. But what exactly is carinata? Why is it so captivating? What does this transatlantic biojet flight really mean for the future of this happy little plant, for Agrisoma, for the future of aviation?

Agrisoma and Acreage

While this is Canadian-based Agrisoma’s second international commercial flight powered by biojet fuel made from Carinata seed oil, the nonstop San Francisco-to-Zurich flight on a Boeing 787 departed Sept. 14 at 2:10 p.m. from San Francisco International Airport and arrived Sept. 15, at 10:10 a.m., at Zurich Airport, making it the longest biojet flight to date.

Agrisoma CEO Steve Fabijanski told The Digest in an exclusive interview that these flights are demonstrating that the carinata crop has “legs beyond the diesel market. We’ve done over 20 million liters of diesel fuel, and this shows we can graduate to the jet market as well.”

The biojet fuel made from Agrisoma’s Carinata and refined by World Energy’s Paramount facility replaced 30 percent of the petroleum jet fuel needed for the United Airlines flight. While they could have gone higher, 30 percent just worked out to be the number with all the logistics, said Fabijanski.

Earlier this year, Agrisoma, Australia’s Qantas Airways and World Energy partnered on a transpacific flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne that used 10 percent biojet fuel produced from Carinata.

These flights have a huge impact for Agrisoma beyond renveue, extending to global visibility thanks to their relationships all over the world. With commercial agreements across the global aviation industry to supply carinata for a low-carbon fuel, and with carinata growers throughout North America, South America, and Australia they are truly a global force.

Their partnerships extend beyond the airlines and World Energy, and into their global processing partner into grain oil and meal, Groupe Avril, the largest ag co-op in France. “They move the meal for us and those global connections are important in our growth path,” Fabijanski told The Digest.

The acreage is impressive too. “We now have 50,000 acres contracted, and next year we are shooting for 100,000 acres – that’s the 70,000-90,000 ton range for crop,” said Fabijanski. “And we’re looking to double that in the future.”

About half of their carinata acreage is in North America and half in South America, but their trial programs in Australia and other locations are underway as they look to the future and growth that relies on additional carinata feedstock.

“We see a huge opportunity in China and Eastern Europe, but for now we are focusing on the markets we have already opened,” Fabijanski told The Digest. “In South America, this crop gets really interesting when double cropped as a rotation option with the summer soybean crop. From a sustainability point of view, it’s very interesting, and that meal piece really helps.”

Check out The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Agrisoma here to learn more about the company’s promise and progress as told by CEO Steve Fabijanski at ABLC 2018 in Washington D.C.

Why carinata is so captivating

It’s beautiful. Its yellow flowers attract bees in search of its sweet nectar. Driving alongside a carinata field, you can’t help but smile and feel happy with all that bright, sunshiny-golden yellow around you. Other than its visual appeal, what makes carinata so compelling?

As poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”

First, Resonance Carinata is certified sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the global standard and certification program for sustainable biofuels. It is one of only four crops in the world to achieve that status. Kind of a big deal, being king of the crop in the sustainability world.

Second, Resonance Carinata meal recently received regulatory approval as an animal feed, “further underscoring the value of this crop to meet the increasing demand for renewable fuel and providing meal for the production of livestock,” according to Agrisoma. In fact, the byproduct of the biofuel production from carinata seeds is a high-protein animal feed, while the stems and leaves from the crop are returned to the field to enrich the soil for subsequent crops. Getting value from waste byproducts is a bonus, both environmentally and economically.

Third, Resonance Carinata is grown on semi-arid farmland, creating new economic and production opportunities for growers, especially those in hot and dry regions that can’t really grow much else or that have drought issues. It can also be used as a winter crop without affecting main crops, making it a nice side business for many farmers.

Fourth, Resonance Carinata is hardy – it puts up a strong fight against frost, insects and disease. It’s one tough cookie.

Fifth, it is a high-yielding oilseed crop and serves as a drop-in feedstock to existing farming practices. Farmers don’t have to change out production or harvesting methods for carinata. It’s just so accommodating, isn’t it?

Last but not least, for any scaredy-cats out there that are afraid of flying on biojet fuel, Agrisoma’s carinata based biofuel is a low-carbon fuel that is chemically identical to conventional, petroleum-derived jet fuel. Literally, no difference to the airplane or engines – they can’t tell the difference, so just drop it in, easy-peasy.

Bottom Line

While this flight is huge, this is just the beginning for carinata and for Agrisoma’s biojet fuel. Steve Fabijanski, founder, CEO and president of Agrisoma said, “This flight is another milestone for the aviation industry’s move toward low-carbon fuels…and, with the fuel-efficient Boeing 787, represents the lowest carbon footprint commercial flight across the Atlantic. It is our second international biojet flight powered by Carinata, but there are more to come.”

More to come? Yes, more to come. And that brings as big a smile as driving by a beautiful bright yellow carinata field on a sunny day.

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