A Brazilian aircraft maker is selling more ethanol-powered crop dusters these days.
Embraer is one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, including commercial and corporate jets as well as defense systems. The company has a subsidiary called Neiva that specializes in smaller planes, like the Ipanema, a low-wing agricultural monoplane – or crop duster.
According to Wired, Neiva recently delivered its 50th ethanol-powered Ipanema.
Since 1973, Neiva has sold over 1,000 of the crop dusters, most of them in the Latin American market. The company began selling ethanol versions of the plane in 2002, which makes sense, considering that Brazil is one of the top ethanol producers in the world.
Embraer also has been selling ethanol conversion kits for earlier versions of the plane. According to the company, in addition to reducing fuel costs, converting an Impanema to ethanol cuts maintenance and operating costs by 20%.
The Ipanema was the first aircraft in the world certified for ethanol operations. Embraer is now reportedly spending $250 million to investigate alternative jet fuels made from babassu, jathopa and algae.