If you have ever flown on an airline and thought ‘this plane is garbage’ you might want to shift your focus a little to an interesting project United Airlines came up with. The company invested 30 Mil US$ into research firm Fulcrum BioEnergy which is working on alternative fuel resources.
Sometime this summer United will send it’s first jet on the way from Los Angeles LAX to San Francisco SFO as inaugural for this project. The plane will fly on biofuel generated from farm waste and animal fats as the New York Times reported here.
Many airlines are investing into the research of alternate fuels these days. This might be partly for promotional reasons but also because the days of cheap crude oil will end again one day as it is subject to market cycles. NY Times outlined some projects in the piece referenced above:
United’s deal with Fulcrum is one of many that airlines have made in recent years.
Alaska Airlines aims to use biofuels at least at one of its airports by 2020. Southwest Airlines announced last year that it would purchase about three million gallons a year of jet fuel made from wood residues from Red Rock Biofuels. The first blend of this new fuel product, however, won’t be available until 2016.
Last year, British Airways joined with Solena Fuels to build a biofuel refinery near London’s Heathrow Airport, which will be completed by 2017.
United’s deal is the airline’s second major push toward alternative fuels. In 2013, the airline agreed to buy 15 million gallons of biofuels over three years from a California-based producer called AltAir Fuels, which makes biofuels out of nonedible natural oils and agricultural waste. United expects that the first five million gallons from AltAir will be delivered this summer at its Los Angeles International Airport hub to help power the flights to San Francisco.
It’s great that the aviation industry got to the point to make enough money again in order to invest in research and finance such products. The automotive industry has done so for years, developing Hybrid cars and other interesting things that will greatly impact the way we will be moving forward in the decades to come as fossil fuel will deplete more and more.
While U.S. carriers are usually not shining examples for innovation I have to give a ‘Thumbs Up’ to United for this one.