Skip Navigation LinksHome > About United > Global citizenship > Eco-Skies > Alternative fuels

Alternative fuels

WBM AwardAt United, we're excited about the innovation that alternative fuels bring to the airline industry. As a leader in advancing alternative fuels, we are actively working with strategic partners to generate sustainable aviation biofuels capable of reducing our carbon emissions and providing energy diversification.

AltAir Fuels

One of these partners, AltAir Fuels, will begin regularly scheduled deliveries of sustainable biojet fuel to LAX in 2016. AltAir's Paramount, California-based refinery converts sustainable feedstocks, like non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes, into low-carbon, renewable jet fuel. This biofuel is price-competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel, but achieves a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on a life cycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel.


AltAir biofuel by the numbers

15 million
United will purchase up to 15 million gallons of sustainable aviation biofuel from AltAir over a three-year period, with the option to purchase more.
50+ jobs

The opening of the AltAir refinery created 65 jobs in Paramount, California.

30/70 blend ratio

Our biofuel will be mixed with traditional jet fuel at a 30/70 blend ratio.

30 million gallons

The AltAir Fuels refinery will produce 30 million gallons of advanced biofuels, including low-carbon renewable jet fuel and other renewable products.


United will begin using the AltAir sustainable aviation biofuel on select flights operating out of our Los Angeles hub in 2016.

41,600 flights

AltAir can produce enough sustainable bio-jet fuel to power the equivalent of 41,600 flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco over the next three years.

50% carbon dioxide emissions reduction

The AltAir biofuel is expected to provide more than a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a life cycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel.

Fulcrum BioEnergy

In June 2015, we announced a partnership with Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that has pioneered technology for converting municipal solid waste (household trash) into low-cost, sustainable aviation biofuel. This biofuel is produced through an innovative, clean and efficient thermochemical process, and it has a greater than 80 percent reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions compared to conventional jet fuel.

As part of our partnership, we’ll work with Fulcrum to develop up to five biofuel refineries located near our U.S. hubs. These refineries could produce up to 180 million gallons of sustainable aviation biofuel per year, and we’ll have the opportunity to purchase at least 90 million gallons of fuel each year for a minimum of 10 years (subject to availability).

Our agreement with Fulcrum will reduce our carbon footprint, divert waste from landfills and create new jobs at the Fulcrum facilities located in the communities that support our hubs. Fulcrum expects its first plant to begin commercial operation in 2017, and we expect to take our first delivery of Fulcrum fuel by 2018.

Our industry-leading history in sustainable aviation biofuels:

2016: We begin using sustainable aviation biofuel in our Los Angeles hub operations.

2013: We announced the first cost-competitive, commercial-scale purchase of alternative fuels by a U.S. airline.

2012: We launched the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI). Learn more about MASBI

2011: We operated the first U.S. commercial flight powered by advanced biofuel.

2009: We performed the first U.S. alternative fuel test flight using jet fuel derived from algae.