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United Airlines to Purchase Advanced Biofuel for L.A. Hub

A historic moment in greener aviation was recently made, with the agreement by United Airlines to purchase biofuel on a commercial scale, at a cost-competitive rate.

United Airlines completed a purchase agreement with biofuels producer AltAir Fuels to take delivery of 15 million gallons of its advanced biofuel over the next few years. The fuel, said to be lower-carbon than traditional petroleum fuels, will be used for flights from United’s Los Angeles hub.

To produce all of that biofuel, AltAir Fuels is retrofitting a section of a petroleum refinery near LA, containing idled refining equipment, into an advanced biofuel refinery capable of making 30 million gallons of the new “renewable” jet fuel per year, along with other related products. Once in operation, the refinery will be the world’s first commercial-scale producer of renewable jet fuel.

“This refinery is important for two timely and significant reasons. First, 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. Second, this project demonstrates the practical efficiencies these fuels allow by fully integrating into an operating petroleum refinery.” – Bryan Sherbacow, AltAir’s President and COO

AltAir’s process converts non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes into fuels, which can be used “as-is” in conventional engines and aircraft.

“These advanced biofuels are drop-in replacements for petroleum-based fuel, requiring no modification to factory-standard engines or aircraft, with which they are fully compatible.

This fuel provides the same performance as conventional, petroleum-based jet fuel. AltAir Fuels’ renewable jet fuel is expected to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis.”

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