Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 16-Jun-2022

This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.

United Airlines to purchase 300m gallons of SAF over 20 year period

United Airlines and United Airlines Ventures (UAV) announced (15-Jun-2022) an investment in and commercial agreement with Dimensional Energy to purchase at least 300 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over a 20 year period.


Dimensional Energy’s technology converts carbon dioxide and water into usable SAF ingredients using the Fischer-Tropsch process, which has been used for over a century, traditionally for fossil fuel production.


UAV president Michael Leskinen stated: “We recognise that decarbonising air travel is going to require combining proven technologies, such as Fischer-Tropsch, with the latest advances in science and engineering”.


Original report: Transforming Yesterday’s Emissions into Tomorrow’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel: United Announces Agreement with CO2 Utilization Company Dimensional Energy

Transforming Yesterday’s Emissions into Tomorrow’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel: United Announces Agreement with CO2 Utilization Company Dimensional Energy

Dimensional Energy combines revolutionary carbon utilization technology with a century-old process, repurposing it to make sustainable aviation fuel

United has invested more in sustainable aviation fuel production than any other airline in the world

United and United Airlines Ventures (UAV) today announced an investment in and commercial agreement with Dimensional Energy, another step forward to reach United‘s 100% green net zero commitment by 2050, without the use of traditional carbon offsets. Dimensional Energy’s novel technology removes the need for fossil fuels, converting carbon dioxide and water into usable ingredients for the Fischer-Tropsch process – a nearly 100-year-old proven technology used to produce fuels from coal or methane. While facilities around the world continue to use Fischer-Tropsch to produce fossil fuels, Dimensional will be one of the first to use it to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Under the commercial agreement, United has agreed to purchase at least 300 million gallons of SAF over 20 years from Dimensional. This agreement further cements United‘s status as an airline industry leader in sustainability. United‘s SAF agreements represent the largest volume of SAF of any airline over the next 20 years, based on publicly announced agreements.

“Sometimes you have to look to the past to solve new problems, and we recognize that decarbonizing air travel is going to require combining proven technologies, such as Fischer-Tropsch, with the latest advances in science and engineering,” said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures. “As we grow our portfolio of companies like Dimensional, we are creating opportunities to scale these early-stage technologies and achieve United‘s commitment carbon neutrality by 2050, without the use of traditional carbon offsets.”

Dimensional Energy was founded in Ithaca, New York, in 2016 and has spent the last six years refining its reactors and catalysts in both lab and real-world demonstrations. The company’s early success led to its status as a finalist in the first Carbon Xprize, and in September 2021, global climate technology nonprofit investor Elemental Excelerator funded Dimensional as part of its 10th cohort, which led to the company’s introduction to United. Dimensional has also received grants from the National Science Foundation and both the Department of Energy’s ARPA-e and Solar Energy Technology Office (SETO). The company began construction on a carbon dioxide to fuels demo in Tucson, Arizona in 2021. Commissioning of the facility has already begun, and it is set to begin operation this July.

“Dimensional Energy is acutely focused on energy solutions that center communities who have been marginalized in the past century as infrastructure and energy systems were developed. We envision a world run on truly conflict-free energy that can scale to meet the global demand for hydrocarbon fuels and feedstocks. United‘s support of sustainable aviation fuel made from captured emissions is an important step in the aviation industry’s pursuit of carbon neutrality,” said Dimensional Energy Co-founder and CEO Jason Salfi.

Dimensional’s technology can run on all forms of renewable energy. At the Tucson site, they are using electricity from the Arizona grid, which gets an increasing amount of power from local solar panels. Future plants are slated to use hydro-power, wind-power and rapidly maturing concentrated solar, which utilizes heat from direct sunlight.

Dimensional can also utilize carbon dioxide from a variety of sources, be it straight from industrial sites (like cement plants), from Direct Air Capture (a technology that can capture CO2 from anywhere in the world), and biological processes like fermentation and biomass gasification.

Today’s announcement marks UAV’s fourth SAF-related technology investment, but its first the pathway of power-to-liquids: which creates SAF synthetically without the constraints of feedstock growth that is prevalent in other biofuel pathways. Launched in 2021, UAV targets startups, upcoming technologies, and sustainability concepts that will complement United‘s goal of net zero emissions by 2050 – without relying on traditional carbon offsets. Over the last decade, United has built a first-of-its-kind sustainability-focused ventures fund. UAV’s portfolio now includes SAF producers and other technologies including carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and urban air mobility.

United‘s 100% green commitment

Here are some of the ways United plans to make sustainability the new standard in flight:

  • In May, United became the first U.S. carrier to sign an overseas SAF fuel purchase, with Neste for more than 50 million gallons of SAF to initially fuel United flights out of Amsterdam‘s Schiphol Airport.
  • In March, UAV invested in synthetic biology company Cemvita Factory for them to begin R&D efforts to bioengineer microbes with the express purpose of creating SAF.
  • In December 2021, United purchased an equity stake in hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia, becoming the largest airline to invest in zero-emission engines for regional aircraft.
  • In December 2021, UAV became the first in aviation history to fly an aircraft with passengers using 100% SAF in one engine.
  • In September 2021, United agreed to purchase up to 1.5 billion gallons of SAF paired with an investment by UAV in Alder Fuels – enough to fly more than 57 million passengers.
  • United is also an investor in Fulcrum BioEnergy, where United has an option to purchase up to 900 million gallons of SAF.
  • In July 2021, UAV announced that along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mesa Airlines, it invested in electric aircraft startup Heart AerospaceHeart Aerospace is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that has the potential to fly customers with zero emissions when powered by renewable electricity.
  • In July 2021, Air Transport World magazine named United its Eco-Airline of the Year for the second time, and the third time to its top environmental honor.
  • In February 2021, United announced an agreement to work with Archer Aviation to accelerate the development and production of their electric aircraft – an urban mobility solution that has the potential to serve as an ‘air taxi,’ giving United customers another opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint before they even board a United flight.
  • In 2019, United operated the Flight for the Planet, which at the time represented the most-eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of commercial aviation.
  • In 2018, United became the first U.S. airline to commit to reducing its GHG emissions, by 50% by 2050. This goal has since been superseded by the airline’s 100% green net zero commitment.
  • In 2016, United became the first airline globally to use SAF in regular operations on a continuous basis with SAF from World Energy.

Japan Airlines and Gevo announced (07-Jun-2022) a new agreement for the purchase of 5.3 million gallons p/a of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for five years, with deliveries expected to commence in 2027.

The agreement falls within the purview of a MoU that oneworld and Gevo signed in Mar-2022, laying the foundation for associated airlines in the alliance to purchase up to 200 million gallons of SAF from Gevo‘s commercial operations.

The agreement will also support Gevo‘s goal of producing and commercialising one billion gallons of SAF by 2030. [more – original PR]

Original report: Japan Airlines Enters into New Fuel Sales Agreement with Gevo for 5.3 Million Gallons of SAF Per Year Over Five Years

Japan Airlines Enters into New Fuel Sales Agreement with Gevo for 5.3 Million Gallons of SAF Per Year Over Five Years

Gevo, Inc. announces a new fuel sales agreement with Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (JAL). The agreement outlines the details for the purchase of 5.3 million gallons per year of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for five years with deliveries expected to begin in 2027.

JAL is a member of oneworld Alliance, and this Agreement falls within the purview of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that oneworld and Gevo signed in March 2022, laying the groundwork for the associated world-class airlines in the Alliance to purchase up to 200 million gallons of SAF from Gevo’s commercial operations. The agreement with JAL will further enhance Gevo’s global footprint for its sustainable fuel products, and also supports Gevo’s efforts in pursuit of its stated goal of producing and commercializing a billion gallons of SAF by 2030.

“Our sustainable aviation fuel is a drop-in fuel that delivers renewable energy where it’s needed,” said Dr. Patrick R. Gruber, Gevo’s chief executive officer. “Our process is a model of efficiency, designed to allow the same acre of farmland to produce SAF from corn using atmospheric carbon while simultaneously adding high-value nutritional products to the food chain.”

Gevo uses the Argonne GREET® model established by Argonne National Laboratory with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy to measure greenhouse gas emissions. Argonne GREET provides an accurate lifecycle inventory of carbon and leverages the decarbonizing impact of sustainable agriculture and fuel-production practices. Gevo’s Net-Zero business systems are expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net-zero over the entire lifecycle of each gallon of advanced renewable fuel produced, including its SAF, and that includes the emissions resulting from burning the fuel in engines to power transportation.

As the airline industry has worked to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by cutting the quantity of fuel used, JAL and other oneworld members acknowledge that, to achieve further reductions in emissions going forward, they need to change the fuels, too, and expect that the use of SAF will become widespread toward 2030 and on. JAL and oneworld have the common ultimate goal of net-zero emission by 2050, with an intermediate target of replacing 10% of conventional jet fuel to SAF by 2030, and Gevo is a vital part of achieving that goal.

JAL sees the value in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels while still being able to continue to use its existing aircraft,” says Gruber. “Our agreement will empower the company to achieve carbon-emissions reductions now as it explores other technologies to manage its energy transition.”

The agreement with JAL is subject to certain conditions precedent, including Gevo developing, financing and constructing one or more production facilities to produce the SAF contemplated by the agreement.

Vueling signs SAF development deal with CEPSA

Vueling signed (13-Jun-2022) an agreement with CEPSA to promote the decarbonisation of air transport through the research and production of new sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs).

The fuels will be produced from circular raw materials, including used cooking oils, non-food use animal waste and biodegradable materials from different industries, and can reduce emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional kerosene.

The partnership will also explore the development of new energy alternatives, such as renewable hydrogen and electrification for the LCC’s ground fleet and operations.

CEPSA aims to lead SAF production by 2030 by producing of 800,000 tons p/a. [more – original PR]

Original report: Cepsa Joins Forces with Vueling to Accelerate the Decarbonization of Air Transport

  • Both companies will drive the development and production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) from circular raw materials, in addition to other energy alternatives such as green hydrogen and electrification
  • This is a new partnership between Cepsa and a major airline as part of the company’s steadfast commitment to SAF. The energy company’s objective is to lead the production of these sustainable fuels by 2030, with an annual production of 800,000 tons
  • IAG, the parent company of Vueling, was the first airline group in Europe to make a commitment to operate 10% of its flights with SAF by 2030
  • Sustainable fuels reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional options

Today, Cepsa and Vueling, an airline that is part of IAG, signed an agreement to accelerate the decarbonization of air transport by researching and producing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Both companies prioritize the development of these sustainable fuels as a tool to further reduce the carbon footprint of air transport and contribute to the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the fight against climate change.

These fuels will be produced from circular raw materials that do not compete with food resources, such as used cooking oils, non-food animal waste or biodegradable waste from various industries, and will make it possible to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional kerosene.

The partnership will also work on the development of new energy alternatives such as renewable hydrogen and the electrification of Vueling’s ground fleets, which include supply vehicles, baggage loading and unloading operations and aircraft assistance.

During the signing event of this new sustainable aviation partnership in Barcelona, Carlos Barrasa, our Director of Commercial & Clean Energies, said:

“Agreements like the one signed today with Vueling continue to reinforce our commitment to transforming the air transport model into a more sustainable alternative. It is a privilege to walk this path with customers who share our commitment to sustainable mobility and the fight against climate change.”

Marco Sansavini, CEO of Vueling, emphasized: “Vueling is fully committed to the environment. We are part of IAG, which, in October 2019, became the first airline group in the world to make a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions through its Flight Path Net Zero program. This collaboration with Cepsa reinforces the collective work that we must all do to find a viable and sustainable solution for air transport, a key industry in a country where 80% of tourists travel by plane.”

This agreement is in line with the European Commission‘s Fit for 55 package, which includes a legislative initiative called ‘RefuelEU Aviation’ that aims to boost the supply and demand of aviation biofuels in the European Union to 2% use by 2025, 5% by 2030 and 63% by 2050. This partnership supports several of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 7 (ensure access to affordable, secure, sustainable and modern energy), SDG 8 (promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work), SDG 12 (ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns) and SDG 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).

As one of the main producers and suppliers of aviation fuels on the Spanish market, this new agreement with a leading airline consolidates Cepsa’s aim to become a leader in the clean energy sector and to spearhead the decarbonization of air transport. As part of its new strategic plan, Positive Motion, the company is developing an ecosystem focused on accelerating the decarbonization of industrial customers and air and maritime transport, as well as the company itself, through the production of green molecules, mainly renewable hydrogen and biofuels. Cepsa aspires to be the leading biofuel producer in Spain and Portugal by 2030 and produce 2.5 million tons annually, with a particular focus on the sustainability of air traffic by producing 800,000 tons of SAF every year.

The company has established an ambitious roadmap to cut its emissions, placing it among the benchmark companies in its sector. Specifically, by 2030, it will reduce its CO2 emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 55% compared to 2019 and aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. As for Scope 3, the carbon intensity of its products will be between 15 and 20% lower by 2030. Cepsa wants to go beyond net zero and have a positive impact, adding value in the communities where it operates by enabling its customers and other stakeholders to move forward in the right direction.

For Vueling, this partnership forms part of its sustainability plan. All actions are carried out in the context of the Flightpath Net Zero program, which includes the goal of reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. As part of IAG, the airline shares the vision of leading the way in terms of sustainability within the global airline industry. Specifically, IAG was the first airline group in Europe to make a commitment to operate 10% of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

Vueling has 25 Airbus 320 NEO, a new generation of aircraft that reduces CO2 emissions by 18% compared to the previous model, A320ceo. What’s more, since 2013, the company has added sharklets, an aerodynamic device placed on wingtips that reduces emissions by 4%, to 78% of its fleet. The company is also developing various initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint by reducing the weight of its aircraft. Since 2019, it has replaced all the seats in its entire fleet with a new, lighter model, and in 2020 it digitized all its aircraft documentation. These measures have reduced fuel consumption by more than 13,000 tons per year, the equivalent of almost 40,000 tons of CO2.

Kansai Airports and Airbus partner to study use of hydrogen at three Osaka airports

Kansai Airports and Airbus signed (10-Jun-2022) a MoU to undertake a joint study of the potential for hydrogen fuel production and usage for a range of aviation purposes in Japan and the development of hydrogen fuel infrastructure at Osaka Kansai International AirportOsaka Itami Airport and Osaka Kobe Airport.

The parties will prepare a roadmap to address challenges and define an advocacy plan for hydrogen use in aviation, with Airbus to provide guidance on aircraft characteristics, fleet energy usage and hydrogen powered aircraft for ground operations.

Kansai Airports CEO Yoshiyuki Yamaya stated: “We have set a target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for the three airports we operate, and this partnership with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus will help us reach this goal”. [more – original PR]

Original report: Airbus and Kansai Airports partner to study the use of hydrogen in the decarbonisation of the aviation sector in Japan

Airbus and Kansai Airports have signed a Memorandum ofUnderstanding (MoU) to explore the use of hydrogen at three of the Group’s airports in Japan(Kansai International Airport, Osaka International Airport, and Kobe Airport).

Through this partnership, Airbus and Kansai Airports will jointly prepare a roadmap to address challenges and define an advocacy plan for hydrogen needs. Both parties would lead the study into the development of infrastructure for the use of hydrogen in the aviation sector. Each partner will leverage their complementary expertise to help define the potential opportunities that hydrogen can offer in support of the decarbonisation of the aviation industry.

Airbus will provide aircraft characteristics, fleet energy usage, and insight on hydrogen powered aircraft for ground operations. Kansai Airports will study the infrastructure required at the airports for the introduction of hydrogen-fuelled aircraft. “We are very pleased to have Kansai Airports, one of Japan‘s major airport groups, on board,” said Stéphane Ginoux, Head of North Asia region for Airbus and President of Airbus Japan.

“Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission technologies as it can be created from renewable energy and does not produce emissions. Renewable hydrogen will help decarbonise not only aircraft but also all airport-associated ground transport.”

“We have set a target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for the three airports we operate, and this partnership with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus will help us reach this goal,” said Yoshiyuki Yamaya, Representative Director and CEO of Kansai Airports. Benoit Rulleau, Representative Director and Co-CEO, added, “We are glad to extend here in Japan the joint efforts between Airbus and our shareholder VINCI Airports, leading the introduction of hydrogen in airports, to decarbonize air transport. Japan boasts a very active environment in the field of hydrogen development.”

Airbus is already working in partnership with airports around the world including the MoU with VINCI Airports, to lead the scale-up of hydrogen use in the aviation industry. This MoU with Kansai Airports is the first one Airbus has signed with an airport operator in Japan and follows the one signed with Kawasaki Heavy Industries last month to work together towards the realisation of a hydrogen society in Japan.

Kuehne + Nagel International (K+N) commenced (09-Jun-2022) deployment of electric vehicles to transport air cargo between Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and K+N’s Mumbai Airport warehouse.

K+N stated: “The use of the EVs is expected to result in a reduction of 24.7 tonnes vehicular CO2 emissions” p/a. [more – original PR]

Original report: Kuehne+Nagel introduces electric vehicle services for airport transfers in India

Kuehne+Nagel, the global logistics company, today announced the launch of the electric vehicle service for airport transfers in Mumbai, India. With this service, Kuehne+Nagel aims to switch to electric vehicles in a phased manner to reduce its carbon footprint and progress towards a sustainable future and Greener India

The Indian-made electric vehicle “Mahindra Treo Zor” will shuttle air cargo between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and Kuehne+Nagel’s Mumbai Airport warehouse. The use of the EVs is expected to result in a reduction of 24.7 tonnes vehicular CO2 emissions each year, thus reducing the company’s overall carbon footprint.

Marcel Fujike, SVP, Global Head Products & Services Air Logistics at Kuehne+Nagel, says: “As an environmentally and socially responsible organisation, Kuehne+Nagel is proud to use EVs in India for its airport transfers to offer green logistics solutions and reduce carbon emissions. Our customers have benefited from the global availability of SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) since last year, and we continue to develop sustainable solutions for a fully carbon neutral transport journey. The introduction of EV airport transfer is the next phase in our transition to low-carbon, door-to-door air transportation, with more sustainable services to follow.”

“Today the transportation of goods is a major contributor to carbon emissions. Fully electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, but even when electricity production is taken into account, petrol or diesel vehicles emit almost three times more carbon dioxide than the average EV. Using EVs will not only reduce carbon footprint but will also offer substantial operating cost savings over comparable, conventional, gasoline-fueled vehicles, allowing us to contribute significantly to the sustainability cause”, adds Coen Van Der Maarel, Managing Director – India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, Kuehne+Nagel.

Kuehne+Nagel’s initiative of introducing electric vehicles in India is aligned with the company’s global sustainability goals. The company is taking several initiatives globally to create a sustainable future and reduce its environmental footprint.

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