U.S. carrier United Airlines (United) is to invest US$5 million from its newly formed UAV Sustainable Flight FundSM. The investment is in the algae biofuel company Viridos. The US$5 million investment will support the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from oil extracted from algae. Viridos specialises in the bioengineering of microalgae and its proprietary technology is able to accelerate the volume of oil that can be produced from microalgae. Currently SAF is made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste. However, in time, it could be made from other feedstocks, including household trash, forest waste, or algae. So far, United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF.
Viridos is a biofuel company which is focused on decarbonising industries and it is leading the bioengineering of microalgae. It has already achieved seven-times the oil productivity compared to traditional wild-type algae. This has created an opening for potentially scalable and more sustainable production of algae oil, which could be used to produce SAF. Based on current estimates, the SAF created by Viridos’ algae oil is expected to have a 70% reduced carbon footprint on a lifecycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel. Viridos’ bioengineering technology combines several important and unique attributes contributing to better scalability and sustainability compared with the production of traditional jet fuel.
The UAV Sustainable Flight Fund is a first-of-its-kind investment platform which has been designed to leverage support from cross-industry businesses to support start-ups focused on decarbonizing air travel through SAF research, technology and production. The fund has commenced with over US$100 million in investments from United and inaugural corporate partners Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase and Honeywell.
United aims to be 100% green by reducing its GHG emissions by 100% by 2050, totally devoid of any traditional carbon offsets. (£1.00 = US$1.22 at time of publication).