United-Continental has laid claim to operating the first commercial flight in the US powered by advanced biofuels.
The company said its subsidiary Continental is operating flight 1403 today from Houston Intercontinental airport to Chicago O'Hare. The Boeing 737-800, identified by tail number 516, is the same aircraft Continental used in 2009 to perform a two-engine demonstration flight using biofuels derived from algae and jatropha.
Today's flight was powered with a blend of advanced biofuel and traditional petroleum-derived jet fuel.
United-Continental sourced the algae-derived jet fuel used in today's flight from Solazyme, which used processing technology developed by Honeywell subsidiary UOP.
At the same time the carrier launches the first biofuel operated flight in the US, United-Continental has signed a letter of intent with Solazyme to negotiate the purchase of 20 million gallons of jet fuel per year derived from algae oil. The carrier aims to take first delivery of the fuel beginning in 2014.
The biofuel used in the United-Continental flight meets standards approved by certifying body ASTM in July of this year for Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA).