United Airlines Stages Large Passenger Flight Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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United Airlines flew much than 100 passengers connected a caller Boeing 737 MAX 8 from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Reagan National Airport successful Washington, D.C. connected Wednesday.  The 612-mile travel utilized “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) connected an unprecedented standard for a formation with galore radical connected it.

Airlines are presently eligible for a $1 per gallon taxation recognition for utilizing biodiesel fuels. Although this subsidy is slated to expire successful 2022, the House version of the Build Back Better Act that passed Nov. 19 includes a caller biodiesel taxation recognition specifically designed for aviation with a level of $1.25 per gallon, on with “the applicable supplementary magnitude with respect to specified sustainable aviation fuel.”

United’s press release connected the formation was titled “United to Become First successful Aviation History to Fly Aircraft Full of Passengers Using 100% Sustainable Fuel.” That property merchandise noted that conscionable 1 of the plane’s engines utilized 100 percent SAF successful its 500-gallon tank, portion the different utilized accepted fuel.

United’s property merchandise besides stated the substance was “drop-in ready,” meaning it tin beryllium utilized with the aforesaid infrastructure, specified arsenic pipelines, and successful the aforesaid engines arsenic accepted petroleum fuels.

“This formation is historical due to the fact that we secured support to run 1 motor connected 100% SAF with the different moving connected accepted pitchy substance to beryllium determination are nary operational differences betwixt the two—and to acceptable the signifier for the aboriginal of aviation with much scalable uses of SAF,” United wrote successful a tweet connected the flight.

In that aforesaid thread, United said its formation generated 75 percent little c dioxide than an equivalent formation relying connected accepted pitchy substance alone.

The hose uses SAF from Boston-based substance supplier World Energy. United had earlier agreed to acquisition “up to 10 cardinal gallons of cost-competitive, commercial-scale” SAF from World Energy for 2 years opening successful 2020.

The plane’s usage of 100 percent SAF for an motor was enabled by synthesized aromatic kerosene (SAK) exertion from Virent, a Marathon subsidiary.

An October press release from Virent described a United Airlines trial formation without passengers that utilized the company’s SAK, which it said was produced utilizing sweetener from Iowa corn.

“For this flight, Virent utilized maize sweetener to manufacture the substance constituent that made petroleum blending unnecessary, and truthful yesterday’s formation demonstrates that we tin powerfulness sustainable aviation without modifying today’s modern hose engines oregon the infrastructure that serves the hose industry,” said Virent president and wide counsel Dave Kettner successful a press release connected the Wednesday flight.

Richard Schuurman of AirInsight pointed out that the Wednesday formation was an experimental one, not a regular commercialized run.

“The connection is that United Airlines, Boeing, CFM, World Energy, and Virent each privation to propulsion for 100 percent SAF successful their quest to trim the c footprint of aviation,” Schuurman wrote.

United told BusinessGreen that the SAF connected its Chicago-to-D.C. formation was one-fifth Virent SAK and four-fifths hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFAs).

A 2020 report from Biofuelwatch claimed that World Energy relied connected maize oil, tallow, and utilized cooking oil/yellow grease arsenic feedstocks for its SAFs.

In that report, Biofuelwatch criticized World Energy for what it described arsenic the “greenwashing of airlines and airports.”

Some clime scientists person identified aerial question arsenic a large root of c emissions, spurring proposals that assertion it indispensable beryllium sharply curtailed successful the future.

The “Absolute Zero” report, produced with British authorities enactment by the U.K. FIRES probe consortium, argues that greenhouse state emissions indispensable beryllium chopped “to zero by 2050.” The study says aviation indispensable beryllium made amerciable to execute this.

United CEO Scott Kirby, who took portion successful the Chicago-to-D.C. flight, described it arsenic “a important milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry.”

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) credited its Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) with nurturing immoderate of the probe that enabled the United flight.

“The extremity is to person specified fuels conscionable 100% of aviation substance request by 2050,” wrote the DoE’s Scott Minos successful a blog post connected the flight.

Nathan Worcester


Nathan Worcester is an biology newsman astatine The Epoch Times.