Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) startup CleanJoule announced that it has raised $50 million, with proceeds aimed at supporting the company’s development of technology to produce more cost-effective SAF.
Three airlines participated in the funding round, including Frontier Airlines, Wizz Air, and Volaris. As part of the investment, the airlines have signed binding agreements to purchase up to 90 million gallons of SAF.
Founded in 2009, Utah-based CleanJoule has developed a proprietary process to manufacture SAF as well as renewable bio-polymer for consumer and commercial products from biomass such as agricultural residues. According to the company, its SAF solution offers beneficial attributes including up to 10% higher energy density than those of competitors, as well as not requiring blending with petroleum jet fuel.
Dr. Mukund Karanjikar, co-founder and chief executive officer of CleanJoule, said:
“The aviation industry presents a key frontier in carbon emissions mitigation. There has never been a more crucial time for us to lead the change than through viable sustainable fuel alternatives. As we advance on the commercialization of our fuel technology, CleanJoule is well-positioned to scale the supply of SAFs in the market and shorten the runway in the transition towards a greener aviation industry.”
Sustainable aviation fuel is seen as one of the key tools to help decarbonize the aviation industry, which currently accounts for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SAF is generally produced from sustainable resources, like waste oils and agricultural residues, providing substantial emissions reductions relative to current fossil-based jet fuels.
Demand for SAF is likely to rise dramatically over the next few years, as airlines turn to the technology as one of the key solutions to hit their climate goals, and as governments begin to mandate increased SAF use to achieve their own decarbonization ambitions. Last month, for example, lawmakers at the European Parliament and EU Council announced an agreement on new rules requiring a minimum SAF share of fuel at EU airports, rising to 70% by 2050.
The funding round was led by the principals of private equity firm Indigo Partners, and also included participation from GenZero, and Cleanhill Partners in addition to the airlines.
Bill Franke, managing partner of Indigo Partners, said:
“Indigo Partners and its portfolio airlines are committed to decarbonizing air transportation, and the investment in CleanJoule will increase the supply of SAF to the industry. The company has developed a unique technology to convert abundantly available feedstocks into SAF with remarkable efficiency.”