United and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures announce collaboration with Biotech Firm to create new fuel sources

United Airlines Ventures (UAV) and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV) today announced a collaboration with Houston-based biotech firm Cemvita Factory to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) intended to be developed through a revolutionary new process using carbon dioxide (CO2) and synthetic microbes. UAV also announced an equity investment in Cemvita Factory. OLCV, a subsidiary of Occidental (Oxy), is a founding investor in Cemvita Factory.

SAF is an alternative to jet fuel that uses non-petroleum feedstock and offers lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. United has invested in more SAF production than any other airline.

United and OLCV have previously worked together on new approaches to combat climate change. Together, UAV and OLCV will fund development work at Cemvita to convert carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons for SAF. If performance targets are achieved, UAV and OLCV plan to form a joint venture to commercialize the technology. This includes funding projects such as pilot and demo plants, engineering studies, financing construction and operating SAF plants.

Today’s announcement makes Cemvita the third SAF-related technology to receive an investment from UAV. 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. United has aggressively pursued strategic investments in SAF producers and revolutionary technologies including carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and urban air mobility. SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint on a lifecycle basis.

Cemvita Factory uses synthetic biology to turn carbon dioxide into chemicals and alternative fuels, including sustainable aviation fuel. Cemvita is among the first to employ this technology to support heavy industry decarbonization and, find ways to use microbiology to turn carbon dioxide into fuel.