United Airlines to Become First American Airline to Use Farm Waste for Air Travel
Environmentally conscious Californians (is there any other kind?) will soon have the opportunity to fly between Los Angeles and San Francisco on flights that are at least partially powered by biofuels produced from agricultural waste and nonedible natural oils. But only if they’re willing to fly United.
According to The New York Times United Airlines has been experimenting more and more with biofuels as an alternative energy source. As part of this new strategy, the airline plans to become America’s first domestic carrier to operate “regular passenger flights with alternative jet fuel.”
The plan stems from a 2013 deal where United agreed to buy 15 million gallons of biofuels from California’s AltAir Fuels. A third of those fuels are expected to be delivered this summer to United’s Los Angeles International Airport hub. The airline hopes to use a mixture containing 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional jet fuel to shuttle passengers between San Francisco for about two weeks. From there, the rest of the biofuels will be mixed into the overall supply.
AltJet’s alternative jet fuel is made from what the Times calls “farm waste and animal fat.” But biofuels can be made from other sources as well. United is also finalizing a deal with Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that creates alternative jet fuels from municipal waste, aka household trash. Hey, if it was good enough for the DeLorean in Back to the Future Part II, it’s good enough for United.