The noxious weed – tobacco – was in the news last week because of its potential to reduce air pollution. No, it’s not the old “smokeless cigarette” gimmick. Rather the news is that an Italian geneticist believes tobacco seeds can be used as a biofuel.
The advantages of making biofuel from tobacco seeds are many, according to PLANET ARK, an environmental organization that is watching the story (www.PlanetArk.com).
Making biofuel from tobacco seeds would ease the price pressure on corn and other food plants. Compared with other biofuel crops, tobacco is cheaper to grow and produces bigger yields. As for the energy produced, its net calorific value is 2.5% higher than those from other biofuel crops.
Tobacco oil can be used by itself for stationary motors like a power generator, and a field test is planned for October using a 1-MW unit at a hospital. As a biodiesel for vehicles, tobacco oil has to be mixed with palm oil. Using it for lubricants is also a possibility.
I knew there was a good reason I stopped smoking two years ago. I would have felt awful if I were wasting such a precious resource.
I hope the early promise of this technology blossoms into a clean and affordable alternative to hydrocarbon-based fuels.