Airplane Biofuel Made of Tobacco

November 14, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. biofuel /ˈbaɪ oʊ fyu əl/ (n.) – fuel produced from natural or organic sources
Example: Environmentalists recommend the use of biofuel for vehicles.

2. hybrid /ˈhaɪ brɪd/ (adj.) – referring to something that is created by mixing or combining two or more things
Example: The gardener likes to make hybrid varieties of flowers.

3. bolster /ˈboʊl stər/ (v.) – to give support or to improve something
Example: The investment of fuel companies in the country bolstered its economy.

4. underway /ˈʌn dərˌweɪ/ (adj.) – being in the process or start of operation
Example: The repair of the aircraft gets underway next week.

5. responsible /rɪˈspɒn sə bəl/ (adj.) – being the cause or reason to be blamed
Example: Vehicles and factories are mainly responsible for air pollution.


Read the text below.
A biofuel company will collaborate with an aircraft manufacturer and airline firm to produce a hybrid tobacco to serve as jet fuel.

The Amsterdam-based fuel maker SkyNRG [skahy-EN-uhr-jee] plans to grow a special tobacco plant called “Solaris” to be used as aviation fuel. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing [BOH-ing] and South African Airways will support the project to help the environment and also to bolster South Africa’s economy.

SkyNRG and Boeing explained that using biofuels made of organic products like plants and algae [AL-jee] reduces an airplane’s carbon emissions by 80 percent compared with petroleum-based fuels. South African tobacco farmers could soon grow Solaris plants as an additional source of income other than the current tobacco plants.

Solaris will not contain the addictive substance nicotine [NIK-uh-teen] that is present in tobacco plants. South African Airways Group environmental affairs specialist Ian Cruickshank [EE-uh n KROO-wik-shangk] said that hybrid tobacco like Solaris will promote growing tobacco for biofuel use, not just for smoking purposes. The production of Solaris is already underway and the first batch of its biofuel could be available a few years from now.

In October 2013, Boeing and South African Airways agreed to develop an aviation biofuels supply chain in the region to help lessen carbon dioxide emission.

According to the International Air Transport Association, the airline industry is responsible for about two percent of the world’s total man-made carbon dioxide emissions. The group announced in 2009 that the airline industry is committed to cut the emissions to 1.5 percent in the next decade. Since 2011, more than 1,500 passenger flights have already been conducted with the use of aviation biofuel.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of the Solaris project? Why or why not?
·         How do you think the project will help the South African economy? Discuss with your tutor.

Discussion B

·         What can be the harmful effects of dangerous gas emissions to the environment?
·         What can you do as an individual to lessen these harmful effects?

November 14, 2014