The two companies have established a goal with Alder Fuels to produce a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel
United Airlines and Honeywell have announced a joint multimillion-dollar deal with Alder Fuels, for the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The so-called ‘cleantech’ company uses first-of-its-kind technologies to convert abundant biomass - such as forest and crop waste - into sustainable low-carbon, drop-in replacement crude oil.
United has also committed to purchasing 1.5 billion gallons of the product as part of the agreement, making it the largest publicly announced SAF agreement in aviation history.
This is the latest purchase by United Airlines Ventures - a fund that focuses on start-ups, upcoming technologies, and sustainability concepts - that will complement its target of zero emissions by 2050.
Last year, the Chicago-based airline became the first operator to invest in carbon capture and sequestration technology, enabling carbon dioxide to be separated from other gases before it can enter the atmosphere, prior to transportation into storage.
“Since announcing our 100% green commitment in 2020, United has stayed focused on decarbonising without relying on the use of traditional carbon offsets,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United. “Part of that commitment means increasing SAF usage and availability since it's the fastest way to reduce emissions across our fleet.
"United has come further than any other airline in making sustainable travel a reality by using SAF to power flights. Our leadership gives customers confidence that they are flying with an airline that recognises the responsibility we have to help solve climate change."
Honeywell has agreed to support the development of sustainable fuels alongside Alder, by applying a proprietary hydro-processing design to help commercialise the product ahead of 2025.
Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell’s CEO, said: "As a pioneer of the SAF market with UOP Ecofining technology, our work with United and Alder on this new technology will help transform the industry and support the growth of a zero-carbon economy. This solution will not only advance United's SAF commitment but can help the aviation industry meet its commitments to decouple increases in carbon emissions from growth in passengers."
According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), forestry residues and agricultural residues alone could provide enough biomass energy to generate more than 17 billion gallons of jet fuel, and displace 75% of America’s aviation fuel consumption.