A Sudden Rush to Make Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mainstream

A flurry of investments, policy changes and technological breakthroughs is giving a jolt of energy to the nascent market for sustainable aviation fuel, a low-carbon alternative to traditional jet fuel made from crude oil.

United Airlines and other companies started a $100 million venture capital fund on Tuesday to invest in the technology.

Boeing said last week that it was doubling its use of sustainable fuel this year. New laws in Europe and the United States are designed to spur investment in the market. And after years of false starts, a handful of start-ups are receiving an influx of funding and expanding operations.

Sustainable aviation fuel is made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste. It produces up to 80 percent fewer planet-warming emissions than conventional jet fuel, according to some estimates. It is currently blended with fossil jet fuel, but the hope is that planes could eventually be powered exclusively with the alternative fuel.

New laws and policy efforts are also giving the industry momentum.

The European Commission has proposed that by 2025 at least 2 percent of jet fuel in use be made from sustainable sources. By 2050, that figure would rise to more than 60 percent.

The Inflation Reduction Act — President Biden’s signature climate legislation, which Congress passed last year — includes tax credits for cleaner jet fuel.

The United fund announced on Tuesday is seeded with initial investments from JP Morgan Chase, Honeywell, Air Canada and Boeing. United expects the fund to grow to as much as $500 million and to make about two dozen investments over the next three years, with the goal of rapidly expanding supply and bringing down cost.

“Our challenge right now with aviation is that we know the solution is sustainable aviation fuel,” Lauren Riley, United’s chief sustainability officer, said. “We just don’t have a marketplace.”

Like many big companies, United Airlines has said it will stop adding more carbon emissions to the environment by 2050. But United has set itself apart by pledging to meet that goal without using carbon offsets, which allow companies to claim credit for actions others have taken to reduce carbon emissions, without actually cleaning up their own operations.

“Carbon offsets have been a bone of contention for me because they’re almost all fraudulent,” Mr. Kirby said.

United, through its in-house venture capital fund, United Airlines Ventures, has already invested in several sustainable fuel companies, including Blue Blade Energy, which makes sustainable fuel from ethanol; Dimensional Energy, which is working on ways to make fuel from carbon dioxide and water; and Fulcrum Bioenergy, which is developing a process to make fuel from landfill waste. Those investments will be transferred to the new fund, which is called the Sustainable Flight Fund.

Sahred From Source link Science

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