United Airlines on Tuesday announced it has committed to buy at least 15 million gallons of cleaner-burning renewable jet fuel from a Los Angeles-based refinery, marking a potentially major breakthrough in the commercial aviation industry’s quest to pare carbon dioxide emissions.
United is planning to use the advanced biofuel on flights out of its Los Angeles hub beginning next year.
Under the deal, AltAir Fuels will retrofit idled portions of a Los Angeles petroleum refinery to produce the low-carbon renewable jet fuel and other products from non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes. Once the project goes online, it is expected to be the first refinery in the nation capable of in-line production of both diesel and drop-in replacements for petroleum-based jet fuels.
“This project demonstrates the practical efficiencies these fuels allow by fully integrating into an operating petroleum refinery,” said AltAir’s president Bryan Sherbacow in a statement. “The industry is delivering on the promise of commercial production of advanced biofuels that move beyond additives, like ethanol and biodiesel, to drop-in replacement low-carbon fuels.”