By Kimberly Chin
United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Honeywell International Inc. have made a multi-million dollar investment in clean-technology company Alder Energy LLC, in an effort to produce sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, at scale.
Honeywell will use Alder's technology to produce sustainable fuel by converting forest and crop waste. Alder's technology allows SAF to be produced using the same refineries, pipelines and engines as traditional fuel. This helps eliminate the need to blend fuels with traditional kerosene, said Michael Leskinen, the president of United Airlines Ventures.
"It's very, very difficult to be able to produce jet fuel that in the end will be molecularly identical to conventional jet fuel and to do it in a way that recycles the carbon so that it's sustainable for the planet," Mr. Leskinen said, describing the technology as game changing.
United has also pledged to buy 1.5 billion gallons of SAF over the next 20 years. The company in 2015 made a similar commitment with alternative fuels developer Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc., agreeing to buy up to 900 million gallons of low-cost sustainable biofuels from waste.
United has invested millions of dollars toward increasing the supply of sustainable fuel sources and new technologies. The airline earlier this year invested $20 million into Archer Aviation Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif., company developing flying electric taxis. Last year, United invested in carbon capture technology developed by 1PointFive Inc., in a partnership with Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Rusheen Capital Management.
United began using biofuels in 2009 but started to use it regularly beginning in 2016, when it set about fueling some of its daily flights using biofuels supplied by AltAir Fuels in its Los Angeles hub.
SAF is a challenge to scale because of the dearth of supply of biomass--primarily of cooking oil, animal fats, agricultural crops and unused wood which goes into these alternative fuel sources--and the high costs. Sustainable fuels can cost up to three to five times as much as conventional fuel.
Alder will work to secure enough particularly woody biomass from the paper and pulp industry, the food industry and other agricultural practitioners, founder and Chief Executive Bryan Sherbacow said.
The companies hope to commercialize the technology by 2025.
Write to Kimberly Chin at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires