United invests in, signs commercial agreement with SAF-tech firm Dimensional Energy
United and United Airlines Ventures announced June 15 an investment in and commercial agreement with Dimensional Energy, which the airline is calling “another step forward to reach United’s 100 percent green net-zero commitment by 2050, without the use of traditional carbon offsets.”
Dimensional Energy’s technology converts carbon dioxide and water into “usable ingredients” for the Fischer-Tropsch process to manufacture sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Under the commercial agreement, United has agreed to purchase at least 300 million gallons of SAF over 20 years from Dimensional.
“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,” said Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures.
Dimensional Energy was founded in Ithaca, New York, in 2016 and has spent the past 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, 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 U.S. DOE’s ARPA-e and Solar Energy Technology Office. The company began construction on a carbon dioxide to fuels demo in Tucson, Arizona, last year. Commissioning of the facility has already begun, and it is set to begin operation next month.
“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,” said Dimensional Energy co-founder and CEO Jason Salfi. “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.”
Dimensional’s technology can run on all forms of renewable energy. At the Tucson site, it is using electricity from the Arizona grid, which gets an increasing amount of power from local solar panels. Future plants are slated to use hydro and wind power, as well as concentrated solar, which utilizes heat from direct sunlight.
Dimensional can also utilize carbon dioxide from a variety of sources such as industrial sites, direct-air capture and biological processes like fermentation or biomass gasification.
The agreement with Dimensional is UAV’s fourth SAF-related technology investment and its first pathway for power to liquids. Additional SAF technology investments by United and/or UAV include Fulcrum BioEnergy, Alder Fuels and Cemvita Factory, among various other agreements.