Cemvita Corporation announced an offtake arrangement with United Airlines for up to 1 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from Cemvita’s first full-scale SAF plant.
Under the agreement, signed by Cemvita and United Airlines, Cemvita will supply United Airlines up to 50 million gallons annually for 20 years of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) made from CO2.
In 2022, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV) announced a collaboration with Houston-based biotech firm Cemvita Factory to commercialize the production of SAF intended to be developed through a new process using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. UAV also announced an equity investment in Cemvita Factory. (Earlier post.)
Cemvita uses synthetic biology to engineer microbes that turn carbon dioxide into feedstock for chemicals and alternative fuels, including sustainable aviation fuel.
Since our initial investment last year, Cemvita has made outstanding progress, including opening their new pilot plant—an important step towards producing sustainable aviation fuel. United is the global aviation leader in SAF production investment, but we face a real shortage of available fuel and producers. Cemvita’s technology represents a path forward for a potentially significant supply of SAF and it’s our hope that this offtake agreement for up to one billion gallons is just the beginning of our collaboration.—United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen
Commercialized SAF is currently made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste. Cemvita’s technology has the potential to provide more reliable feedstock production with minimal land, water, and electricity needs. Furthermore, the output of eCO2 plants has the potential to be carbon-negative and Cemvita is aiming to be cost competitive with existing crop based HEFA feedstocks and fuels, which is a crucial factor for the successful adoption of any new biomanufacturing process.
United has aggressively pursued strategic investments in SAF producers and revolutionary technologies, including carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and air taxis. This year, United launched its UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, a first-of-its-kind investment vehicle that is designed to leverage support from cross-industry businesses to support start-ups focused on decarbonizing air travel through SAF research, technology, and production. Cemvita was announced as part of the fund’s inaugural group of portfolio companies. United has invested in more SAF production than any other airline globally (based on publicly announced airline offtake agreements for future purchases of SAF).