Algae-Based Jet Fuel Company Secures $5M From United Airlines

The airline said using algae-based fuel is expected to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

Written by Abel Rodriguez
Published on Mar. 13, 2023
Algae-Based Jet Fuel Company Secures $5M From United Airlines
A United Airlines plane flying over clouds.
Photo: Shutterstock

United Airlines is investing in sustainable aviation fuel, also known as SAF, shortly after it launched a $100 million investment fund in February. Its first investment from this fund is a $5 million round that will go to Viridos, a microalgae biofuel company based in California.

Viridos bioengineers microalgae in large vessels containing seawater. After growing the microalgae, the company uses its technology, alongside feedstock consisting of used cooking oil and agricultural waste, to produce algae oil that can be used to produce jet fuel and help decarbonize various industries.

The use of algae-based SAF is expected to significantly reduce an airline’s carbon footprint compared to traditional jet fuels, United said in a statement.

Also in ChicagoRedShelf’s $15M Raise, Bond Vet’s Expansion, and More Chicago Tech News

“As the global aviation leader in SAF production investment, United remains committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, without relying on traditional carbon offsets, by 2050,” Mike Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, said in a statement. “Viridos’ algae-based biofuel technology has the potential to help solve our supply problem without the need for farmland or other agricultural resources and marks our inaugural investment in our new cross-industry UAV Sustainable Flight Fund.”

For United, this is another step toward lowering carbon emissions in the aviation industry. Besides launching the fund, its other efforts to reduce emissions have included purchasing four-person electric aircraft and launching new partnerships to develop sustainable fuels using ethanol. 

“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,” Oliver Fetzer, Viridos CEO, said in a statement. “We are excited to have the support from United Airlines. Together we can build the ecosystem needed to bring algae biofuels to the market.”

United did not say when it plans to begin using Viridos’ SAF.

Hiring Now
JPMorgan Chase
Fintech • Machine Learning • Financial Services