AltAir and United sign purchase agreement for bio-based jet fuel

AltAir Fuels is to turn part of an existing petroleum refinery into a 30 million gallon biofuel production facility near Los Angeles, California and has finalised a purchase agreement with United Airlines for the fuel.

Under the partnership, United has agreed to buy 15 million gallons of biojet from AltAir over a three-year period, with the option to purchase more. AltAir says it expects to begin supplying the airline, which will use the bio-based fuel on flights operating out of Los Angeles airport, with 5 million gallons a year of renewable jet fuel in 2014.

The refinery will produce bio-based jet fuel and other renewable products. The biojet is being sold a price competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% on a lifecycle basis.

'United Airlines has been a strategic partner for several years as we work to establish our biofuel facility,' says AltAir's CEO Tom Todaro. 'We cannot underestimate how important this milestone is for the commercialisation of sustainable aviation biofuels.'

The retrofit project will include using idled refining equipment and upgrading it. The technology was developed by Honeywell's UOP and the biojet will derive from non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes.

As AltAir president and COO Bryan Sherbacow explains: '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 fuels. Second, this project demonstrates the practical efficiencies these fuels allow by fully integrating into an operating petroleum refinery.'

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