United, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures team up with Cemvita to commercialize SAF from CO2, microbes
United Airlines Ventures and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures are collaborating 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. United Airlines Ventures also announced an equity investment in Cemvita Factory. Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, a subsidiary of Occidental, 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 says it has invested in more SAF production than any other airline.
United and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures have previously worked together on new approaches to combat climate change. Together, United Airlines Ventures and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures will fund development work at Cemvita to convert carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons for SAF. If performance targets are achieved, United Airlines Ventures and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures 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.
The March 29 announcement makes Cemvita the third SAF-related technology to receive an investment from United Airlines Ventures. Launched in 2021, United Airlines Ventures 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.
Cemvita Factory uses synthetic biology to turn carbon dioxide into chemicals and alternative fuels, including SAF. Cemvita is among the first to employ this technology to support heavy-industry decarbonization.