The sustainable aviation fuel would reduce greenhouse gas emissions during use; typically made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste, Viridos is using bioengineered algae to create it without relying upon other sources. The company has already been able to produce seven times the normal amount of oil from its algae than wild types. The company’s oil is estimated to produce 70 percent less emissions than traditional jet fuel.
There are several key benefits to investing in algae oil production. Algae are grown in seawater tanks in hot, dry locations, reducing the usage of freshwater and eliminating production runoff. This type of production also has the smallest surface area needed to produce high amounts of oil.
“By establishing production sites to grow Viridos-engineered microalgae in saltwater, we are creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land,” said Viridos Chief Executive Officer Oliver Fetzer. “We are excited to have the support from United Airlines. Together we can build the ecosystem needed to bring algae biofuels to the market.”
United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel to-date as part of its UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, which supports sustainable aviation fuel start-ups, promising $100 million in investments from United and partner organizations Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase and Honeywell. The investments are also facilitating the company’s goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“SAF is proven, scalable, and the best tool we have to reduce our carbon emissions from flying, but we face a significant shortage of available feedstock,” said United Airlines Ventures President Mike Leskinen.
“As the global aviation leader in SAF production investment, United remains committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, without relying on traditional carbon offsets, by 2050,” Leskinen continued. “Viridos’ algae-based biofuel technology has the potential to help solve our supply problem without the need for farmland or other agricultural resources and marks our inaugural investment in our new cross-industry UAV Sustainable Flight Fund.”
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