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Sustainable jet fuel company Alder Fuels seals investments from United, Honeywell

The aviation industry is notoriously difficult to decarbonize, in part because airplanes use a petroleum-based fuel to fly.
Alder Fuels wants to change that. The new clean tech company, headed by Bryan Sherbacow, is developing a low-carbon jet fuel that can be used as a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum fuel, without needing to adapt existing aircraft or engines. That’s notable because the only commercially available sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) still requires a 50-50 blend with conventional fuel.
The technology has piqued the interest of the aviation industry. Alder Fuels said Thursday it has inked a multimillion dollar investment from aviation giants United and Honeywell — as well as a purchase agreement from United for 1.5 billion gallons of fuel, the largest known agreement for SAF in aviation history.
United consumes around 4 billion gallons of fuel per year, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch, so the purchase agreement would account for nearly 40% of the airline’s overall annual fuel consumption.
Before the fuel starts powering United airplanes, it must meet specifications outlined by ASTM International, an international organization that sets the standards for a wide range of materials and products. From there, Alder and Honeywell expect to commercialize the technology by 2025.
Alder Fuels was formally launched earlier this year, but Sherbacow has been assessing the technology for around five years, he said in a recent interview with TechCrunch. It became clear through his previous work that the technology behind the low-carbon fuel — and especially the raw materials — needed to be scalable and widely available.
“What we’re all looking for is [ … ] how do you access these carbon oil precursors and efficiently convert them into something that works within the existing refining infrastructure?” Sherbacow said.
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