United Airlines invests $5 million of its UAV Sustainable Flight Fund in Viridos, a biofuel company.
Viridos is a company that specializes in bioengineering microalgae and has developed a proprietary technology that speeds up the production of oil.
By using bioengineered algae instead of relying on other sources, Viridos is creating sustainable aviation fuel that would decrease greenhouse gas emissions during use. This type of fuel is usually made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste. The company has already achieved significant success, producing seven times more oil from its algae than wild types. Additionally, the company’s fuel is estimated to generate 70 percent fewer emissions than traditional jet fuel.
Investing in algae oil production offers several key benefits. Algae can be cultivated in seawater tanks located in hot, dry areas, thereby minimizing freshwater usage and eliminating production runoff. Furthermore, this method of production requires a relatively small surface area to generate large quantities 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.”
As part of its UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, United Airlines has invested in the future production of more than three billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel. The fund supports start-ups focused on sustainable aviation fuel, and has attracted a total of $100 million in investments from United and partner organizations Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell. These investments will aid United in its mission 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.”