United to Fly Planes Using Renewable Biofuel
United Airlines said it will begin to use low-carbon, renewable jet fuel for some flights departing Los Angeles International Airport starting in 2014. The move comes with the announcement that it will purchase 15 million gallons of renewable jet fuel from AltAir, an alternative fuel company, over a three-year period. United also has an option to purchase more fuel if it wishes.
AltAir, which has been working with United since 2009, will convert part of an existing petroleum refinery near Los Angeles into an advanced biofuel facility. With technology developed by Honeywell’s UOP, the facility will use non-edible natural oils and agricultural waste to produce about 30 million gallons of the new fuel per year. The company expects to deliver five million gallons of fuel to United beginning in 2014. It will be cost-competitive with conventional jet fuel.
The advanced biofuel that United will receive from AltAir is a drop-in replacement fuel, which means that it can be used in place of conventional fuel immediately without requiring the modification of the aircraft’s engines. AltAir promises that it will provide the same performance as petroleum-based fuel.
The renewable jet fuel is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as 50% on a lifecycle basis.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)