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A major commercial airliner will fly on animal poop this summer

A major commercial airliner will fly on animal poop this summer

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We’re not letting our animal waste go to waste. This summer, United Airlines will starting flying planes using fuel derived from farm animal poop and fats. The effort is an attempt to curb the greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning jet fuel in commercial aircraft.

The first partially poo-powered flight will be a short one, taking off from Los Angeles and landing in San Francisco. Then for next two weeks, United will fly four to five flights a day between LA and San Francisco, all of which will contain about 30 percent biofuel. The animal-based propellent is produced by California-based AltAir Fuels.

We’re not letting our animal waste go to waste

The initiative doesn’t stop there. Today, United will announce a $30 million investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy, one of the largest makers of aviation biofuels. Globally, airlines have been looking at biofuel use for some time, but this marks the biggest ever investment in alternative fuels by a major commercial airline, reports The New York Times. Eventually, United plans to integrate biofuels into its entire fleet.

Typical fossil fuels used in aviation are formed from the organic remains of dead plants and animals that have been buried deep within the earth. Burning these fuels is great for combustion, but it also releases the organic materials’ carbon components into the atmosphere, which wind up trapping heat. Since farm waste and fats have already been exposed to the atmosphere and have absorbed carbon during their lifetime, burning them does not introduce any extra carbon into the air.