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Manitoba signs a contribution agreement for study on plant-powered aircraft

Manitoba has signed an agreement to put $2.9 million over two years into a study for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Or, one might say, plant-powered planes.

The study will be run by Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp.’s Front End Engineering Design (FEED), said federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn, and could see the project set up in the Rural Municipality (RM) of Portage La Prairie.

In a release, the Government of Manitoba said the study outlines plans for using Canadian products, like canola and soybean oils, to make as much as one billion litres of SAF every year.

“The mission of this project is to provide made-in-Canada solution to source certified low carbon fuels to meet their emissions reduction targets,” it said.

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Douglas Cole, CEO of Azure, said, “This fuel would reduce emissions by at least 80 per cent on a full lifecycle basis: when you take canola oil and turn it into jet fuel.”

He said the full lifecycle includes “cradle to grave” with the production of the fuel, meaning “making fertilizer, planting the seed, growing the crop, harvesting the crop, crushing the seed, taking the oil, processing it into fuel, putting it in the jet, burning it in the jet, taking the carbon dioxide emissions and putting it back into next year’s crop.”

The province said SAF is “a liquid fuel currently used in commercial aviation.”

Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp. has estimated SAF woudl do about 65 per cent of the heavy lifting to get the aviation industry reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The sustainable fuel corporation said it is working closely with the Manitoba government, Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie, Indigenous groups and local stakeholders so that it can meet all environmental regulations and requirements.

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