United Airlines Places Record-Breaking SAF - Smart Energy Decisions

Sourcing Renewables  -  September 9, 2021

United Signs On For Record-Breaking SAF Purchase

United committed Sept. 9 to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from a cleantech company that the airlines also joined a joint investment in.

United and Honeywell partnered on a multimillion-dollar investment in Alder Fuels, which is developing technologies to produce at scale with biomass such as forest and crop waste. The technologies could also have the ability to produce carbon-negative fuel when painted with Honeywell’s Ecofining process.

Alder is pursuing the creation of technologies that could produce fuel functioning as a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel.

United’s investment in Alder comes from its United Airlines Ventures fund, which is focused on funding technologies and startups that would help United reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 without carbon offsets.

The commitment from United to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from Alder is estimated to be one and a half times the size of all known SAF purchase agreements combined.

“Since announcing our 100% green commitment in 2020, United has stayed focused on decarbonizing without relying on the use of traditional carbon offsets. Part of that commitment means increasing SAF usage and availability since it's the fastest way to reduce emissions across our fleet. However, to scale SAF as quickly as necessary, we need to look beyond existing solutions and invest in research and development for new pathways like the one Alder is developing,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “United has come further than any other airline making sustainable travel a reality by using SAF to power flights. Our leadership gives customers confidence that they are flying with an airline that recognizes the responsibility we have to help solve climate change.”

This agreement will account for 70% of United’s SAF commitments to date. 

Honeywell will contribute its proprietary hydroprocessing design to the project in the hopes of commercializing the technology. Commercialization of this SAF technology is expected to begin by 2025.

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