United Airlines Invests US$5m in SAF Producer Viridos
Airlines Industry Technology

United Airlines Invests US$5m in SAF Producer Viridos

DALLAS – Chicago-based United Airlines (UA) has invested US$5m in Viridos, which produces algae-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). 

As part of its commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, UA has launched the United Airlines Ventures (UAV) Sustainable Flight FundSM, UA is set to invest in SAF.

It has also started a SAF purchasing program called the Eco-Skies Alliance and founded a venture fund – United Airlines Ventures – to recognize and fund firms and technologies that can decarbonize aviation.

Viridos' technology extracts algae oil from algae for potential future production of sustainable aviation fuel
Viridos’ technology extracts algae oil from algae for potential future production of sustainable aviation fuel. Photo: United Airlines Newsroom

United with Viridos

The SAF is an alternative to conventional jet fuel and helps reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. The SAF is currently produced using cooking oil and agricultural waste. However, according to reports, making them for more comprehensive applications using household trash, forest waste, or algae could be possible in the future.

Viridos is a biotechnology company with expertise in producing renewable algae-based biofuel using photosynthesis. Companies’ proprietary technology accelerates the quantity of oil made from microalgae. It was founded in 2005 as Synthetic Genomics (SGI) and renamed in 2021 as Viridos. The company derives its name from viridis = green, new in Latin, and os = operational system that powers a cell.

The company claims that with the help of its technology that produces such microalgae, SAF reduces GHG emissions from aviation, commercial trucking, and maritime shipping industry by 70%. 

United Airlines N25982 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Luke Ayers/Airways

Executive Comments

United Airlines Ventures President Mike Leskinen said, “SAF is proven, scalable, and the best tool we have to reduce our carbon emissions from flying, but we face a significant shortage of available feedstock.

Meanwhile, Oliver Fetzer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Viridos, said, “By establishing production sites to grow Viridos-engineered microalgae in salt water, we are creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land. We are excited to have support from United Airlines. Together we can build the ecosystem needed to bring algae biofuels to the market.”

Do you think biofuel is the future of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)? Be sure to comment on our social media channels.

Feature Image: United Airlines N78008 Boeing 777-200(ER). Photo: Miles Aronovitz/Airways

Aircraft maintenance engineering graduate and Aviation enthusiast with more than four years of experience in running a successful aviation startup.

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