June 13, 2024

United Airlines invests $15m in carbon-capture technology for SAF

United Airlines is investing $15 million in technology firm Svante, which is researching how to create sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.

The financing is the latest from the United Airlines Ventures (UAV) – a $100 million investment vehicle created to accelerate research into the decarbonisation of air travel by supporting innovative start-ups.

Chicago-based United said the money would go towards the development of Svante’s commercial-scale filter manufacturing facility in Vancouver, Canada. Carbon-capture specialist Svante is already working with other world-leading organisations in its field, including Dimensional Energy, another CO2 to jet fuel company that UAV invested in last year.

The airline aims to have eliminated greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To date, United has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF – the most of any airline in the world.

“Carbon capture technology has the potential to be a critical solution in the fight to stop climate change and has the added benefit of helping us scale the production of SAF,” said United CEO Scott Kirby.

“And at United we’re building on that approach by investing in both companies that can capture CO2 and others that can turn it into fuel. There’s no question that this carbon utilisation is in its infancy today, but as a leader in sustainable flying we must help build the foundation to deploy this technology of the future as expediently as possible.”

Svante’s innovative filter technology captures carbon emissions from the industry as well as being able to remove them from the atmosphere. Once the CO2 is captured, it is concentrated and can be used in the creation of SAF or other products. It can also be safely transported and stored underground.

Svante’s manufacturing facility is anticipated to produce enough filter modules to capture millions of tons of carbon dioxide per year across hundreds of large-scale carbon capture facilities.

SAF is an alternative to conventional jet fuel that, on a lifecycle basis, reduces GHG emissions associated with air travel compared to conventional jet fuel alone. SAF is made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste, and, in the future, could be made from other feedstocks, including household trash, forest waste, or compressed CO2.